Howsabout some fun facts about Camp Blank? Ya? ok!
Camp Blank was started by M. Solomons, who originally tutored the illegal kids in her neighborhood who weren't allowed to go to school, the demand became so great, she rented a building, asking a small monthly fee (bear in mind that even public schools charge monthly fees.)
Most of the books are donations from churches and sometimes schools that have upgraded their own books.
My class is actually a combination of grades 1, 2, and 3. (I split them into groups, and work with each group individually)
The kids in my class are 7, 8, and 9 years old.
Some of the kids in my class don't, nay, didn't speak any english. It's taken a LOT of work and patience, but I am so proud of how far along my two Dominican boys have come. Seriously, they went from the absolute most mischievious to the most helpful.
In my class alone, there are students from Haiti, Columbia, Africa, Dominica, Santo Domingo, Guyana, Suriname, and Jamaica.
Guyanese kids are AMAZING. They must have the best schools EVER- they are so advanced and well mannered. I have never met a Guyanese kid that wasn't completely respectful.
Camp Blank is a big building with only a couple rooms. We split up the two big rooms with book shelves and cabinets, so each class has kind of it's own space, but it can be hard to teach over the other classes' noise.
We have no electricity- but we get plenty of light through the big glassless windows... but when it rains we get wet.
There isn't any running water- if you have to use the bathroom, you first must go outside and fill up a bucket with water to flush the toilet with.
There isn't a cafeteria, the "vice principal" cooks lunch over a kerosene stove- rice and some kind of meat (mmmm... yellow rice w/ curry goat). You eat at your desk, or out in the yard.
There isn't any playground equipment for the kids to play with... but we play games with whatever we have (tag, timebomb, telephone, scavenger hunts, etc.)
Every day there begins with at least a half hour of devotion in the big room. The older kids take turns leading worship. I was kind of shocked by how many verses some of the kids could recite off the top of their head- some of them knew more than me!
The kids are fantastic. period.
I wish I could do more to help out the school than just teach. A little financial assistance would really go a loooong way. I've racked my brain for ways to come up with money, but I can't think of anything that wouldn't compromise the school's "undergroundness". It's important for us to stay under the radar- if anything should happen to make us stand out in any way, the goverment would have us (and likely the other illegal schools) shut down in a heartbeat, and hundreds of kids would be back on the street... or worse.