The whole process of the handing out of the presents is not easy because it implies having them displayed on the beds of my hotel room and though they have been previously identified I have to have the photos I have taken of the children during the last visit, the letters those "responsible" for them have sent them, together with the money for the school needs individually collected, placed on top of them and this does take some hours, once there are more than a hundred children involved.
The photographing of the children with the presents, the letters and the photos follows and in most cases the handing out of the money for the school needs to their parents. Knowing the names of all the children and identifying their parents (especially the mothers, as they are the ones who most often come to collect it, being single mothers) is essential to ease the process.
Once the handing out of the presents is finished there's the collecting of the letters the children write back to those who are helping them in Portugal and France and as I get back to Lisbon the inverse process is then initiated - the handing out of all of those. I don't think most "godparents" are aware of the work involved in this process, with the exception of those who have gone to Calheta and "experienced" what it was like.
The fact that Noelle and I drove from Praia to Calheta fairly early allowed us to have three huge bags full of presents opened and placed on the two beds by eleven, and once we realised the older children would have classes till six and a half in the evening allowed us also to keep their presents in the other bag, so as to have them displaced later.
Edeson, Flavio, Veronica Conceição and Edson Edu were the first children to be handed their presents, as they returned from school. They were particularly happy with what their "godparents" sent them (Mia, Rui Neves, Marta and Olga respectively) and though most children don't express their happiness in the open way Western children do, a smile or shining eyes are always indicative of their inner feelings, not to mention what they express in written form (including the ones who can barely write, yet make an effort to express what goes on inside of them).
Edeson with the presents Mia sent him.
Flavio with the bag containing the school material Rui sent him (left) and showing the two small vehicle toys he received (right).
Veronica Conceição with the stick on reading books and the disposable camera she had asked Marta to send her (left). Edson Edu with the clothes Olga sent him.
The empty places on the bed were almost immediately filled with new presents taken from the last bag before we decided to take a break and head onto the last floor to have some photos taken of the village shoreline and have Noelle provided with some explanations as to how the village was "organised", once it was her first time in Calheta.
Marlene, whom I can always count on, as an excellent cook and a friend, served us the first typical Cape Verdian meal, after having been handed out her presents (always cooking associated at her own request) - a huge tuna steak with a traditional sauce, accompanied by vegetables (which tasted like vegetables) and a delicious milk pudding.
(To be continued)