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Santa Lucia de los Palones

TEACHER: Silvia Evelyn Cruz

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Santa Lucia de Los Palones is a hilly community. A few houses face the roads, but most houses are built on the slopes, which means that there is a lot of climbing up and down to get to the homes of the people.

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Santa Lucia de Los Palones is a hilly community. A few houses face the roads, but most houses are built on the slopes, which means that there is a lot of climbing up and down to get to the homes of the people. During the rainy season the slopes are slippery at best. These homes consist of little more than some sticks covered with mud. The roofs are formed by piling all sorts of things on top of the "walls": wood, metal, tires, doors, sticks, tree branches, etc.

Evelyn went among the gullies and ravines, visiting those she felt could benefit from learning to read and write. She began with her own husband's family. Quite a few of his relatives were illiterate. Some of them were completely illiterate-they had to stamp their thumb in lieu of a signature on any official paper. Others had had some elementary education; however, for most of them this had happened so long ago they had forgotten what they'd learned as children.

Monday through Friday, Evelyn teaches from 8 in the morning, after she takes her son to school, until 11:30 am. She comes home to feed her son, then goes back for another class from 1:30 to 5:30 pm. "But not everybody is able to come to every class," she told me. "So I go to their homes. Sometimes I go on Saturday or Sunday.""So you teach every day of the week?" I asked her. She just smiled and nodded.

Not too long ago she received a visit from the local police. They offered her an administrative job. "This was a great opportunity. It was right here, so I wouldn't have to travel. I haven't worked since my son was born, so this would help my family. It was a great opportunity," she repeated. "I talked to my class. I had spoken with another woman in the community who was willing to take over my classes. I talked to them in the group and I talked to them in their homes. Their response was: If you don't continue the classes, we won't continue either. The literacy supervisor visited and talked to them; she tried to convince them to continue their classes. They wouldn't budge."

"I turned the job offer down." She said this with a serenity that indicated that she knew it was the only sensible thing to do. "They gave the job to somebody else."




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