Tribal School

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Children of the village will wake up at sunrise and get themselves ready to walk nearly two miles over the hill to their school.  The school doesn’t have the same system as the US does, whereas grades over there are declared by ‘Standards.’  The ‘elementary school’ and ‘high school’ are both located right next to each other.  A brand new basketball court is in the process of being constructed for them in the school yard – all by hand!


Another early morning to catch the elusive sunrise… and it continued it’s streak for us.

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We were up at 3:45am to hop on the bus in an attempt to make it up the tea plant covered hills in the dark to catch some great shots of the village during a sunrise.  We all took out our iPhones to use as flashlights and basically ran up the side of the hill, hoping we’d reach the highest point of the ridge.   The rain from the night before made it a slippery, wet hike through the tea plants themselves – which of course I was wearing shorts for..

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As we figured, the morning mist/fog got in the way of seeing any clear shots, but seeing the sky brighten through the mist was surreal.  We started seeing more and more rows of vine covered trees appearing.  It almost looked like some sort of alien planet.

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We headed back down to the Profugo house for a quick cup of coffee before a few of the village children were about to head to school.  We decided that we’d join them on the 2ish mile trek to the tribal school.  This was no walk down the street to school trek, this was a legitimate hike.  The kids we were walking with enjoyed our struggle walking down the slick, clay paths.

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Once again, I was taken back by the generosity of the children.  During a steep section of the path, I slid a little, and a girl probably half my age grabbed me and stopped me from falling.  I had never met this little girl, but she was right there calling me “cheta” and saving me from sliding ten feet down a trail.  In the US, a kid might potentially just watch and laugh as I slid down the path!

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At the school, we were getting the usual “photo, photo.”  They all loved getting their photos taken, but at times, I felt like I was in the middle of a joke and had no idea what was going on.  A group of boys would keep pushing their friend in front of me to take a photo of him, and they’d all erupt in laugher.  All I could do was play along, considering my Malayalam vocabulary was only hovering around four words..

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I let Surech run around with my camera for a little while.  Everyone who knows me, knows that I would barely even trust my best friend with my equipment, but there was something disarming about this lively, young, but extremely mature boy I had only met a few days before.  And I’ll tell you what, he certainly has an eye for photography even without any knowledge.  He took the three photos below.

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After we left the school, we set up in a large rice paddy field to use a piece of equipment that was new to everyone.  We were using something called a CobraCrane, essentially a see-saw like rig that gives you a smooth transition from either up high, to down low-or visa versa.   Something that is very hard to operate without all of the proper pieces and on soft ground…

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We ended the day with an interview with Amaci.  She is one of the widowed elders in the community who has lived a very rough life.  The interview was a very moving experience for every involved, especially for the field fellows who consider her to be their ‘grandmother’.  Even through the tears, it was evident the impact that Profugo was leaving on her by being involved with her life.  They helped to provide an emotional support for her, when her own children are pushing her away.

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  • Final Days | Cameron Piper January 29, 2014

    […] youth of the area would come to this Tribal School.  They would all converge for lunch of a basic curry and rice – while having a chat with […]

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