Lospalos school is open!
Lospalos school was opened with great success this week. After a bone shaking 7 hour drive to Lospalos we visited the school the night before the ceremony. There were people working everywhere. Workmen were putting the last coat of paint on the school floor (carefully kept till the very last minute so it would look fresh), others were stenciling the Spend it Well name on the official plaque stand and others were finishing off the huge shade structure erected just for the day. Some women were pinning white table cloths to the tables and folding serviettes for the feast (in a decorative manner that would have put any function centre in Australia to shame) and many other women were cooking over outdoor fires – and were still doing so when we went past late that night. Our 12 year old daughter Zoe came with us and quickly assumed rockstar status among the young local girls!
The next morning the school children lined the road into the school and dancers escorted the official party. The President had to cancel at the last minute, but Kirsty Sword Gusmao is every bit as popular and delighted the crowds with her presence and speech. The ceremony was wonderful – rather different to others we’ve seen as Lospalos has it’s own distinct culture. The new building we have built is fabulous and the two old renovated buildings like like new – a fabulous transformation from the wrecks they were before.
Apparently we all featured on the Timorese news the next night, including my speech which I attempted in Tetum! The highlight of the day for the children though were the small packs we gave each of them (all 1,200 of them!) which contained an exercise book, pencils, soap, toothpaste, brush and a pack of biscuits (at a cost of $2 per pack). When we left not one of the children had even opened their packs – for many of them it would be the first present they’ve received.
More trip highlights to follow!