We drove the Adult Short Bus down the dusty dirt road, passing trucks with fenced sides holding young men -more like boys – crammed in the back, heading to work I assume. We passed cows and pigs and little huts that seemed like we were on the set of a movie – all unreal that these were the living conditions of the community. Women were washing in the front, many didn’t have shoes on, kids were running in and out of hut to hut – I don’t even know if some had doors.
We were warned that many kids in El Salvador don’t go to school because their fathers want them out working and earning rather than learning. One of our tasks once on site was to encourage the young kids to get an education – try to help them want to go to school and hope that the message would get back to their parents. One Kid One World has helped the education rate rise 80 percent over the three years since its inception.
We pulled up to the school and our bus was met by children, staff, and young teachers (who make approximately $2,400 a year…yes that’s two zeros).
First man off the bus = Pedro Peligroso, spoken with a strong accent and deep raspy voice AKA Dangerous Pete…Pete Huyck.
He had the kids at “HOLA.”
Pedro Peligroso was a harrier, half-spanish caveman version of my friend Pete. By the time I got off the bus, giggling fans were following him around in awe. No matter how sweaty we got -in that 90 degree heat, no matter how much snot came out of the kid’s noses – I was constantly trying to wipe this particular boy’s every chance I got, no matter how many of them – Pedro had 7 on TOP of him at one point, Pete was still laughing and playing in character. I know they were probably some of the cutest kids I’d ever seen but man it took me a little time with it. Pete needed not even a second…and not only that but Pedro was constantly checking in with the rest of us to make sure we were all comfortable in our new roles. Dangerous Pete was my hero!
This first day was an introduction and preparation for the next long day of work. We were to meet the kids and prepare the concrete walls for paint, get the supplies set, and pretty much lay the groundwork. We all set off to do what we did best – choosing tasks that fit our personalities. The funny part was that we met the kids and set off to work, but within minutes all the kids had jumped in and were climbing the walls and ladders with scrapers anxious to help us get the job done. This first day I couldn’t pull up that unabashed A+ student I was in Professor Pasqua’s class Freshman year. I felt a little shy so I did a lot of smiling and motioning to the kids to help me with my scraping. Unlike the small number of U.S. kids I’m around now, these little tykes loved my requests to carry chairs, hold onto ladders and run errands to get me diet coke – I only asked because they stared with those big eyes dying for a job : ). Their adoration made me want to work as hard as I could from the start.
I don’t know how the 4 teachers handle the 200 kids every day. Yes they have 4 – that’s 50 kids each. U.S. classrooms are usually 20-30 and they have air conditioning, man. We were 20 and not even there trying to teach them but after 3 hours – we were beat….but at the same time very excited for the full day of fun to be had on Dos Dia – Day 2.
Here’s an article about us helping build schools for kids with One Kid One World!