Saturday, 29 November 2014

Calheta de São Miguel, Santiago island - Cape Verde - The handing out of the presents (cont.) - The 22nd of November 2014 (afternoon)


Before heading into the fishing port area so as to have Noelle meet the mother of the girl she is "in charge of" Leiziny showed up so we handed her the dress and the money for her school needs sent by her "godmother.

As we were walking down towards the port by a short cut over the beach we met Jocelyne and Ivanilde Elena's father, who told us they would come by later as they were at school. Upon reaching the hairdresser's saloon where Sandra works we realised it was closed with Sandra having gone to Assomada to buy some hair dressing products. I was worried Noelle might have come for nothing but trusted she would soon have a chance to meet her "goddaughter" and  mother soon.

So as not to lose more time we decided to walk up to the upper part of Cutelo Miranda by walking up the hill and unexpectedly came across Sandra who was shocked to see her daughter's "godmother", as she hadn't expected her to come all the way from France to meet them. We nevertheless continued our "escalade" and promised to stop by at the hairdresser's later, as Erica was at the high school in the village next to Calheta until half past six in the evening.
We stopped by at Naté's, the mother of "my" Leinira where we ended up coming across the whole family (she excluded). We handed out the presents to Leidina, Elias and Lou sent to them by Carla Oliveira, Gabriela and Celeste respectively, whilst Naté was given the money sent for their school needs.

Leidina with her new baby-doll pyjamas (left) and wearing her new outfit and necklace whilst holding the new vowel game her "godmother" sent her (right).

Lou wearing her new blouse and necklace (left) and Elias his new T-shirt (right).
We then stopped at the next door neighbour's to hand out the new blouse and sandals to Jessica Joceane sent to her by Francisco. We soon noticed her mother seemed even more excited than she was as she looked at the photo I had taken of her last time, which I handed her together with the money for the school needs.

As we were making our way down we briefly stopped by Veronica's, whose father was handed out the money for the school needs.

Before walking down towards the fishing port we were stopped by some of the village young ladies who had children since I had last seen them. We stopped by Marline and Aniza's where I spent some time talking to their grandmother and some of the neighbouring old ladies to let them know their granddaughters could come by the pension in the early evening to collect their presents.

We finally made it back to the hairdresser's to allow Noelle to get to know Sandra a little better and get some answers to some of the questions she wanted to ask her regarding their way of life, needs and expectations. At one point Sandra stopped working leaving her client behind as if Noelle's presence was a lot more important, despite the barriers of the language and her own timidity. Soon after two of her daughters walked in, which allowed Noelle to get to at least see them.

Before heading back to the pension, where a few children were already awaiting our return we stopped by Celeste's, whom I had bought a Holy Mary of Fatima's statue for, as well as to have some water and get some temporary shelter, as the temperature was too high.

Back at the pension we handed out the presents to the siblings Silas and Silvânio sent by Dulce and Pedro respectively, soon followed by the ones to little Eduardo, Jessica Patricia and Felisberto, who had just found out he had got a "godmother".

Silas (left) and Silvânio (right) holding the presents, the photos and the money for the school needs.

Little Eduardo surrounded by the presents sent to him by his "godmother".

Jessica Patricia holding the envelope containing the money sent for her school needs (left) and holding the presents (right) sent by Jorge respectively.

Felizberto clearly happy with the unexpected clothes and presents sent to him by Lucia (left) and with Sr. Meno (right), who was handed the money for his school needs on behalf of his mother.
(To be continued)

Calheta de São Miguel, Santiago island - Cape Verde - The handing out of the first presents - The 22nd of November 2014 (morning)

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)

On the way to Santiago island, Cape Verde - The 21st (late evening) and the 22nd (early morning) of November 2014

Though it might not be visible I left to Santiago island in a state of tiredness, one I haven't had for a long time. But taking into account all I had to do in terms of work, plus several minor "incidents" concerning the Calheta project before leaving and the re-arrangements regarding the trip with the return flight cancellations and alterations, which both affected Noelle and me, we were in good spirits.
One of the positive things we were granted was the extra weight, which is welcome in every similar situation, as well as the precious help from Rui Neves and João de Barros, who helped us through the check-in formalities and the last minute confirmation that we would have a car at our disposition on our way to Calheta, gently provided by the Mayor of the village.

We reached Praia later than expected, as there was a flight delay, but by two in the morning we had been given the keys of our hotel rooms and were therefore ready for a short night sleep before the next tiring stage of our trip.