Sunday, April 15, 2007


Wow, when I signed in to write my blog was in German! Not what I have written but everything else. Here we are at the first Sunday after Easter. And here is a little update.

It is the rainy season - has been since the beginning of April , although today we have not had rain yet. Leaves are coming out, the piper is flowering, in the patio of the home we are seeing green grass coming up. The patio got an especially hard workout this summer and was very brown and dry - so we shall see how it comes back. We had a lot of adolescents doing their social work at the home and so a lot of extra soccer games as well as volleyball. They played along with our kids. Now I can see green grass poking its way up and I wonder if we will have the lush patio we have had in the past.

We now have 24 girls officially on the role. One didn't return from Easter Weekend as yet (and may not I think - she is 14 and her mother placed her at the home so she could go to school and be in a safer place - but that is a hard transition for someone who has had fairly unsurpervised access to stores and all the alure of city life - even as unsafe as the area she was living in was. I hope she has returned to the Darien with her mother if she isn't coming back to us. While she was with us she got some badly needed dental work done.) and two were admitted on Thursday. There is one more girl in the paperwork stage. We have 32 beds - but we use one for an adult to sleep with the youngest kids (we have two 5 year olds) and we probably won't go over 30. If we get to 30 that will be the most since I have had contact with the home - which is now 19 years!

School is in full swing. This year MEDUCA (the ministry of education) is comitted to have improved education. So far there have been very few days when even one girl has not had school because of teacher absence. There isn't now and has not been a substitute system here.

Our two new girls are sisters ages 12 and 13 and as with every girl we have admitted this year (2007) that is 9 they are very out of synch with their education. Both are just starting 4th grade and both are well below grade level in arithmatic and one has a lot of problems reading. She says her teacher in her previous school says that she needs glasses - so we will be checking that out. These two girls also are very thin - but some time with us will improve that as we serve nutricious food and often have snacks. Everyone gets a glass of milk a day (this may seem little to some of you). The milk program is a gift from one of the friends of the home. We buy long-life milk at 70 cents a quart. Fresh milk would be a little less but it goes off easily here so this is better. A serving for each takes 5 quarts! a day. We also use some of it on cereal and in the breakfast drink. Ideal (evaporated milk) also goes into the morning drink.

Our morning study time (from 8AM to 10:30) is very full for the staff. Often one of us is working with 2 to 4 girls at once - and they can be in 4 different grades. I do a lot of remedial work in arithmatic, work on the girls mastering the times tables and improving their addition and subtraction skills and multiplication and division. There are four (ages 10 to 14) who have not mastered even very basic division so we spend time placing pennies and other things in groups and going on from their. If, in addition to this they are just memoring their multiplications tables I teach them the 2s, 5s, 3s and then start using those to practic doing multiplication on the grade level. In 4th grade they are learning to do such as 235 x 21.

I also have learned most of 7th grade math and some of the algebra that is used in 8 and 9th grade.

Our three first graders (ages 7, 9 and 10) are doing fairly well. Our 9 year old had been to kindergarten 4 years ago and then not back in school, but she has an older sister who had finished 2nd grade and so she is doing well in 1st. The two girls, ages 7 and 10, who are the first females in their family to go to school, are going ok - especially since when they came to us in mid January they only preschool skill they had was coloring.

I'll be in Philadelphia for the month of May.

Tia Sue

Friday, April 13, 2007

A brief up date.

I have a lot to write about and hope to do so this weekend. Here is a brief update! We have two new girls who came in yesterday. They were sent to us by a judge because of serious family problems. The are 12 and 13 and are in 4th grade. It looks as if the older has some learning problems / she reverses letters and leave out vowels. Her sister, younger, seems not to have any learning problems but both of them are behind in math for entering 4th grade / they don-t know division at all. So, there will be a lot of nivilacion / which means leveling. We have about 8 highschool kids doing their social service on Saturday morning so they will help.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Palm Sunday

Today is palm Sunday. We have a new interim priest at St. Paul's - and it is clear it is a new day. First we had a procession with palms aound the block that the church sits on - I have been there 10 years and this is the first for that. The block has the countrie's best public High School on one side but the rest of it is inner city. Many people participated including Daisy Letts who is 89 or 92 or so. That was not the only change. This is the first Sunday of the month and that means ENGLISH. But we had a bilingual service. The verses of the hymns alternated Spanish English, we did the Lord's prayer together in both languages and many other things that that would be in English were partially in Spanish. A woman priest who is not serving as an active priest now but who served at St. Paul's in the past was invited by our new Interim, Glenda, to come up as co (or con) celebrate with her at the alter. Diana did not have vestments and celebrated in regular clothes. Our Sr. Warden explained at the end of the service that it was not out of order for Diana to celebrate in regual clothes I think it is a good new start for St. Pauls. We have Glenda for 2 years by which time we are to call a rector. Although she is serving at St. Pauls, she is also the church development director for the entire diocese of Panama!

I am doing my weekend care of the 3 dogs and 4 cats at my friend Lizzy's house. She is in the states until the end of April. Olivia, who is about 7 moths old was by report mated with a number of times during the week, including by her father - who is a Huskey! Olivia has a skin infection inside her outer ear and also around the base of the ear. I bought some antibiotic cream for it and she was very cooperative while I washed it with agua oxiginada (which is something I can't remember ) and put on the cream. It has something in it to cut down on itching as I think she is scratching.

I think Olivia is pregnant because her nipples are more prominent. I can't tell with Natasha.

The young woman on Dialysis from Children's hospital has spent the weekend with us. On Saturday around noon when I left all of the tutors (from a couple of different high school doing their required 80 hours of social service) and all our girls were in a circle around our two kindergarten kids who were dancing. That must have been very different than life in the hospital for the last 3 years. Her mother at first was not going to be bothered to sign her out of the hospital to come live with us. Then we got a call that she was coming down to Panama City and Elba (the director) and I went to the Hospital to tak to her on Friday. She did agree to sign and also Elba asked her not to disapear from her daughters life. We took her out to the home with her daughter (who stayed for the weekend) We are going to try to get some help from church people in Bocas so that the young woman could go home a visit for a weekend. ( she can skip dialysis occasionally. She is on peritoneal dialysis and it is done at night while she sleeps - this will take place at the home.) Her home is in Finca 4 which Joellen (a nurse missionary who directs the medical mission program of the Episcopal Church here) says is near Changuinola. It turns out that the family are Ngobe! (One of the 7 different tribes of indiginas here. We have girls at the home from three of the tribes Our newest resident will move in right after Easter. That is because everyone at the home will visit someone for Maundy Thursday through the late afteroon of Easter day. I will be here in Gamboa with the animals from Thursday night.

Last week I went to classroom visit at the other primary school, Escuela Republica de India. We have four girls there and we got some hints one how to work with the 1st graders who are learning the vowels and are about to start to learn to put consonants with them.

Tia Sue