Saturday, April 19, 2014

By the Sea

On the eastern shore, this community is home to fishermen and their families. Boats are handmade and simple; they've been doing it this way for centuries.

The shore here is just across the road from their homes.  Kids come here to play in the water and watch dad do fishing things like mending the nets.  It's 85 and sunny pretty much every day.

Down the street and around the corner, there's an elementary school.  Making it through the 6th grade is a big deal, and not all make it that far.

There's a middle school and a high school in the capital city, but only a small percentage of kids in the country get to go there.  Still, it's encouraging to see the mob of kids in the city going to and from school.

Like all such efforts, it serves well for a percentage of the folks they hope to serve.  Out on the edges are more who can't afford the fees and uniforms and supplies needed.

STeP UP Sao Tome is a local NGO, a really energetic bunch.  They manage several scholarship and assistance efforts.  For educational assistance, they focus on those who need a little help making their way forward; orphans, distressed families ...   If you want to go and see for yourself, they'll take you in like they did for us.  Want an introduction?

Just minutes from our work site, this fishing community is organized under
the supervision of a 'beach captain', the local elder who keeps up with
boats and landing spots and who's missing at the end of the day.

The country is Sao Tome & Principe, by the way.  Need more incentive to go see for yourself? Nice hotels, guest houses, incredible beaches, and no crime or violence.  And good food, no matter where you eat.  Local folks are among the world's most gracious; if you ask politely, they'll let you take their picture.  :)

On the equator, the two-island country is much like Hawaii for climate, terrain, and foliage.  The rainy season isn't a bother, and the dry season is perfect for shorts and sandals.  At sea level, the climate is tropical - hot and humid with average yearly temperatures of about 27 °C (80.6 °F) and little daily variation. The temperature rarely rises beyond 32 °C (89.6 °F).

At the interior's higher altitudes, the average yearly temperature is 20 °C (68 °F), and nights are generally cool. Kids who live there complain about having to wear long sleeve stuff and having covers for their beds.  Annual rainfall varies from 5,000 mm (190+ in) on the southwestern slopes to 1,000 mm (39 in) in the northern lowlands. The rainy season runs from October to May.