Copyright 2020 - Bem Vindo

Helder LopesOur primary school in Tarrafal has a new head teacher. The previous head, Odorico Batista Lopes (a co-founder of ‘Dar as Maos‘) retired from his post in June 2019. His successor Helder Lopes – no relation – is 30 years old and comes from Ribeira Grande on the other side of the island. He has lived in Tarrafal for two years and teaches two subjects, English and French, to Year 5 and 6 primary-school pupils.

I asked him a few questions the day after school started:

Annette: How many pupils are attending primary school this year in Tarrafal?

Helder: We have 65 pupils between Year 1 and Year 6 in the Joao Madeira primary school and 10 between Year 1 and Year 4 in the district of Covão.

Annette: What are the most important tasks ahead?

Helder: The most pressing one is a repair: one of the two toilets for pupils is now unusable, leaving only two toilets for 75 pupils and nine teachers. Hygienically speaking, this is completely inadequate. I would also like to get use out of the school garden – which is standing idle – once more so we can grow our own vegetables and help the children eat more healthily.

Annette: What are the difficulties in particular?

Helder: There is a shortage of funds wherever you look, and the wheels of bureaucracy grind slowly. It will be months before I get a reply to my request to have the toilet repaired. And there’s no guarantee we will get the money for the renovation – many school buildings are in similarly poor condition. And being confronted with public guidelines and legal requirements is sometimes complicated, especially if they’ve just been introduced.

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