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posted Jul 20, 2010, 5:43 AM by Julie Bateman
This morning was GIEU’s last work shift, and fortunately our lumberjacks, Jico and his nephew, had the perfect task for all of us – beam retrieval from deep in the forest. We were led a good two kilometers from site to our fresh lumber, and were very happy o
nce there to have as many hands did. As of now, we have approximately enough lumber for the school, but Jico has caught Ethan and my disease and consequently his chainsaw is broken. This afternoon, they will return with Ethan to Pocone to fix the motor, and then they will be back to find the rest of our lumber and also to help us construct the trusses for the roof.

Very sadly for all of us, Nisha departs this afternoon to return to Ann Arbor. It’s hard to know whether we or Joam will miss her more. Joam will especially miss her as they have been hard at work together on the verandah columns. I was personally hoping that we would infect the truck into not working and she’d stay her through end of July or maybe end of August.

This afternoon, we tapped bricks for a few more verandah columns, and James prepared for a big day of concrete column pouring tomorrow.

Having our pedreiro, Joam, on-site has been a good shake. He speaks light-speed Portuguese and I need him to repeat whatever he says about five times, which doesn’t matter a whole lot as we have many hours to kill. What’s been a good shake though is all the time focusing on construction logistics took me away from what it is that we are really working on. As we were talking about the census in Porto Jofre, and an eight-year old named Lara that has never attended school, Joam repeated again and again, “Cade Lula?” – Where is Lula, Where is the President? And in Brazil as it’s been explained to us, whenever there is a problem, the President is to blame –similar enough to the US. I hadn’t really focused on it, but where exactly is the government in rural regions? There’s rarely a census out here, there isn’t a school quite yet, and the government knows that families live here. Fortunately, that doesn’t change why we are here – there needs to be a school in this specific region, and we have a sustainable solution to try – but it does demand us to consider the larger problem at hand. The lack of access to education in Porto Jofre is not unique in the Pantanal, and with good chance not unique in the many rural regions of Brazil, and for that matter not unique in the many rural regions of emerging and developing countries. Being here with amiable and generous people in a pristine wetland with gorgeous sunsets, it’s difficult to put a price on providing education to a sparse, scattered population with transportation challenges.