Tati in front of his house with his mother. This is at least 4 hours after the graduation ceremony ended at school but she was so proud of him that she made him sit in his house dressed like that all day so that she could show him off at church in the evening.
So our 6th graders are graduating here this week. Tati was our first this past Saturday and there are more this coming Weekend. It's a bit of a gaudy affair, replete with color-coordinated outfits, songs, dancing and festivities. They even have Godparents that are supposed to buy them gifts and dance with them if they're of the opposite sex at the graduations parties. I'm Sergio's Godfather (I like the sound of that) and Suzie Montiel from church is his Godmother (she'll be doing the dancing). Myself and Maureen Velasquez (also from church) were supposed to also be the Godparents for Christian (and still might be) but it looks like some long-lost brother and his wife will be taking over those responsibilities.
When I first heard about this and all that it entailed I was a little incredulous, I couldn't believe that families and teachers were going all out to celebrate the passing of the 6th grade. It reminded me of the 1/2-year I spent in one of the Philadelphia School District's middle schools and the faux-graduation they had for the 8th graders there; knowing full well that many of them wouldn't finish high school. So I thought to myself...many of the kids in school here in Laureles won't even make it out of the 6th grade, and the majority of those that do will never even consider going on to high school. For many of the kids this week, this is it. At 12, 13 & 14 they are beginning their adult lives...they have waiting for them a life of back-breaking work for pitiful wages, child-rearing, poverty and violence with absolutely no chance of changing their situation. If I were them I'd be living it up this week too, good grief I'd be going off the reservation if I knew that my days of childhood freedom were limited to 7. It can sometimes be too depressing to think about, I try not to dwell on it for too long because hope is hard to come by in this community and losing it wouldn't be good for anybody, most of all me.
Fortunately for about 7 of our kids, Sergio and Cristian included, we've gotten them to think about going on to high school in February. Their parents are tentatively behind the plan and the more we talk about it the more excited and proud of the idea of being High Schoolers they become. We're still looking for funding to make it happen but we have faith that it will come through, we have to, this is our one shot with these kids before the lure of money, gangs or drugs becomes too strong. Blessings to you this week. Peace!