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posted Jul 20, 2010, 6:12 AM by Julie Bateman   [ updated Jul 20, 2010, 9:52 AM ]
We had the Cuiabá River almost entirely to ourselves this morning and early afternoon, Michigan weather has trained us well. We left Porto Jofre from Boré's dock with Ethan, Mindy and her son Max, John, and Giorie. Boré and his wife have four children (age range from 4 to 13) that are all two to three grades below their age level due to the cost and logistics of educating their children three and half hours away in Pocone. Additionally, Boré has a 15-year-old niece who is only slightly behind grade level. The census was recorded with Ethan's GPS to mark the locations on the river, a notebook for the names, birthdays, education levels, and literacy of parents (the data required by the Secretary of Education). Additionally, John and Mindy with the permission of the families photographed the census. Permission is required for use of any photo in today's blog.

We first traveled upstream (left from the dock) to a fazenda (ranch
) fifteen minutes away called São Bento. Upon arriving, we were greeted by the Thelura and Joaquim, the owners of the fazenda, after which Thelura (in the gray coat) introduced us to the four families working on the fazenda and kindly aided us with the census. The ten children among the four families range in ages from 2 to 8 years old, all have 0 years of education, and the aside from Thelura and Joaquim all of the adults are illiterate.

We departed from
o Bento to travel downstream to the three next locations. Five minutes downstream we pulled up to a relatively abandoned fazenda with three young men (ages 17 to mid-twenties), on a previous trip Ethan had discussed school with the 17-year-old's mother who remained convinced that it was too late for him to start his education. This visit unfortunately went just as poorly, with the 17-year-old backed by his two friends, confirming that he was not interested.

We set off for the next location - ten minutes downstream - to Lara, an 8-year-old with 0 years of education, who lives with her grandparents. While collecting the data, Lara's grandfather told us about "mountains of children" referring to one's of all dif
ferent sizes that live an hour downstream, and who will be coming upstream on August 6th to celebrate a cousin's first birthday at our next location, the Gós family (ten minutes farther upstream). Already worried about boat logistics, Lara's grandparents offered to provide room and board during the school year for the children an hour downstream.

The Gós family with four children (age range from 10 to 16) was our final stop. The parents are in a challenging position as they can only afford to send two of their four children at a time to school in Pocone. Three of the four children are just slightly behind grade level, but the oldest girl at 16-years-old has never attended school. The very kind Gós' invited us all back for the party on the 6th, and told us to bring our notebook, pen, and camera for the rest of their cousins upstream. We definitely won't forget as our send off was "Até Dia Seis!, Até Dia Seis!, Até Dia Seis!"

On this Tuesday, we are visiting the Secretary of Education in Pocone to give her the census data for the children living in Porto Jofre (tallying at 20 currently). After which, we will have more details on transportation, lodging, lunches, and curriculum for our variety of students. It is still up for debate whether the children will be transported each day on boat and bus, or if it will be better for the families and the Secretary of Education to build lodging for the students and transport on the weekends.