Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Recycling afternoon at the school

Last Friday the kids took part in a recycling day at the school. 

For those of you who don't know about our system, each week we collect and sort all the trash at the school. The separation process is very precise and includes lots of different types of trash: clear plastic, colored plastic, white plastic, paper/cartons (both coloured and normal), cans, glass bottles, aluminium, and so on. 

Beside the kitchen we have our recycling station. As soon as this is full we call the recycler from Ambato. He the comes to "buy" the separated materials, which is a great extra donation for our project.

We started the afternoon by collecting all the left over trash from the last week, which was a lot due to the funeral at the school on Tuesday. A few of the kids, past students of the school, already know the system well and so they were far better at seperating the items than us volunteers.

After work follows rest and food. So once we were  finished we made some popcorn and tea for everyone.

See the links below to read more about the history of our recycling system:

Oct, 2012: The First Load Of Recycle Material Of The New Year 
Oct, 2011: The Recycling Program Is Going Strong 
Dec, 2008: Re-cycling Contest Has Started  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The new beginning

Today is officially the first "normal" day after Robert's death, happened on Sunday.

We have the kids coming to do their homework (English, Maths and Spanish) and additional classes in the afternoons at the school. Furthermore we give English classes (kids, teenagers and adults) at the library.

We volunteers have decided to keep the project on going.
Some changes have to be done but the Escuela KATITAWA [with the activities directly in the school and also in the library] is going to have a long life! For Robert and also all the locals who still needs us!

Updates are following in the incoming days/weeks.

If you still want to help us, please continue in doing so.
As usual, more details in our Support section of the blog


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The funeral

Today is Robert’s funeral.

Like the tradition in Salasaca, after the death of a person there are 3 days of celebration during which people bring food and drinks.
Robert did not want a big celebration, he wanted people to come for him not for the food nor for the drinks; therefore in the past days no food and drinks have been shared among the visitors and his funeral is going to be today (the 2nd day after his death).

Since Sunday late afternoon the room down stairs on the left side of the dorm has been turned into Robert’s death chamber.
His grave is surrounded by flowers, candles, pictures and there is also the light blue flag of the soccer team of Salasaca.

People come to visit him during the days and nights.

Despite the fact that Robert did not want a big ceremony, he was still one part of the community here (a very strong pillar and a very much beloved man). Therefore his funeral is in any case traditional.

At midday the service starts.

From the death chamber the grave is carried by two very good friends of Robert (Angel and Arne) and two football players of the Salasaca team. With a lengthy procession people follow them to the Christian church in the center of the town.

At the head of the procession there is Mariano’s red camionetta with amplifiers that put the same song over and over again (Sound of silence, in its original version of Simon & Garfunkel, in a Spanish religious version and without text. In between a voice is talking about Robert, how he arrived here in 2004 and how he helped the community during those 12 years).

The procession is slow and long.
The sun is burning and the more we all walk, the more people from the streets come to join us to say the last goodbye to Robert.

At 1:30 PM we all arrive to the Church in the center where more people are already waiting for the mess to be celebrated.

The mess is very emotional. Again the whole community reminds and thanks Robert’s work during all those years. The locals consider him as a father, because Robert was very much involved in the education of the Salasaca's kids and he encouraged them to never forget and always respect and love their roots.

After the mess the procession continues to the Escuela KATITAWA.
Robert wanted to be buried there but unfortunately this is not possible. His grave will be buried in the cemetery but we all want him to have a last look at his school, his project and the thing for which he spent so many years, energy and money; the thing he lived for since the last 12 years.

At 4:30 PM we all arrive at there. The grave is placed on the Andean cross watching the Chimborazo.
The view is spectacular, the sky is clean as to let Robert see his place for the very last time.
From the terrace on the 1st floor Rufino begins his speech, in Quechua and in Spanish. Afterwards the kids gather around the grave and starts singing a common song from their school time. 
For the locals it is very important not to be sad at a funeral, because this is when the soul is leaving the body and it does not have to be sad. All is so touching.

After the school the procession continues for the last section, to the cemetery.
At the cemetery there is already a hole for Robert’s grave and on its sides a lot of soil is left to cover it again. All the people that have been walking with him since 12:00 PM are now around that hole.
The grave is gently let down into the hole. Then we all throw flowers into it and slowly the closest friends start to re-cover the grave.

At the visual seeing of the soil covering the grave of their beloved teacher, the youngest kids start to cry one by one. From mild sobs they became loud laments.
It is now difficult to maintain the joyful atmosphere that was before.
Some adults also start to cry: the daughters, some volunteers, some locals, some friends…

Goodbye Robert! AdiĆ³s Robert! Tupananchikkama Robert!

This is how we want to remember you

For the local newspaper

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday, the 13th of November 2016

Today, Sunday 13th of November at 5:30 PM Robert (age 84) passed away.

Robert felt sick on the 24th of October. Since that day he was hospitalized in Ambato, where he has been diagnosed with different diseases, the worst one: lung cancer. His wishes were to die at the Escuela KATITAWA, the place he loved and in which he invested all his energy for the past 12 years.

After being 2 and ½ weeks in the Ambato’s hospital and 2 and ½ days in the dorm next to the library belonging to the Escuela KATITAWA, he decided to leave his sufferance behind and rest in peace.

When this happened there were two of his daughters Valerie and Susie and Arne with him. The daughters came directly from the USA and Arne is a German guy, who volunteered with him for one year and since then he not only stayed in Salasaca but also remained friend with him and helped as he could the incoming volunteers.

Robert’s grave will be till Tuesday (15th of November) morning for viewing and visiting purposes in the community room in the dorm’s building. The funeral will be held in a traditional way on Tuesday.

Robert we will miss you very much!

May you rest in peace, watch us and guard us all from the sky, where you now are.

We, volunteers will keep the project on going
– updates to come on the next days.
Thank you all for your support!

Friday, November 11, 2016

The 19th birthday party of the Escuela KATITAWA

Today it is Friday 11th of November, and the Escuela KATITAWA’s celebrates its 19th birthday.

All the former students of the school and the current kids, who are coming for the afternoon classes, are invited, and of course Inti.
The volunteers are preparing for the occasion a very big party. In the morning they go up the school and start decorating the terrace on the 1st floor and the tree next to the kitchen.

They also prepare games for the kids (the last one will be the Pinata – Robert likes this game the kids too J). And what is a birthday party without a cake???

The volunteers arrange a cake, some Fanta, Coke, sweets, candies and also make some popcorn.

2:00 PM - All is ready.

2:30 PM - The kids arrive.

3:00 PM - Rufino starts the speech about the Escuela KATITAWA’s: how it started 19 years ago, how it was grown and how it now changes. But still it keep a very important role in the community. The speech is as usual in Quechua and Spanish.

3:30 PM - The games start and the kids are having a lot of fun.

4:30 PM - Time for the cake – Happy B-Day Escuela KATITAWA!!!


5:00 PM - Robert arrived at his dorm at the library from the Ambato’s hospital. The kids want to go see him. Time to go there! The camionetta is too full but we can make it :)