This year, we have an official school lunch program. Two of our parents (both of whom got their food handler certifications) come upstairs each morning to work in our small kitchen, preparing a lunch for students and staff. Students are encouraged to bring lunch money each day, or bring in-kind donations of food. Thus it is not all that unusual to see students arriving in the morning with plantains, breadfruit, dasheen, cucumbers, seasoning peppers, etc. I know I do my part to keep this program going! The food I eat at school is probably my best meal of the day, and certainly beats the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I used to bring.
For the first two months this school year, students would take their plates and find a seat wherever they could around the outside of the school. We have two benches near the school, but there wasn't enough room for everyone to eat on them. It wasn't uncommon for them to simply sit on the ground.
Thankfully, the National Co-operative Credit Union gave us a donation to purchase four wooden picnic tables. A big project on National Day of Community Service was to install anchoring hardware on the legs, dig holes, level up the tables, and pour concrete to set the tables permanently. The assistance from the visiting Seamester college students on this particular work project was greatly appreciated.
Over the weekend, I got thinking about our new lunch tables. They are near the end of the school where we have an exterior water spigot. However, there is no soap there, so students wishing to wash their hands before eating need to go to our bathrooms to clean up. It would be more convenient (and perhaps encourage more to wash their hands) if they could just go over to the nearby "pipe" (as it is called here).
So, I asked our cook if I could have a leftover mesh bag which had held some garlic. I cut some yellow cord that I had brought with me (part of my “MacGyver stuff”). I dug out a big plastic bin that had contained some mints that had been mailed to me (because down here I've learned to save everything—you never know when a cardboard tube or a plastic container might come in handy).
Once I had my supplies, I used my multi-tool to “drill” a small hole in the bottom of the bin. I then threaded the yellow cord through the hole, dropped a white bar of soap into the mesh net, tied that bag to the cord, and carried it to school this morning. Once there, I tied it to the vent pipe that runs next to the water pipe.
The upside-down clear plastic bin provides coverage so that the rain showers we get here periodically won't cause the soap to wear down prematurely. The students can now wet their hands, reach up into the large plastic bin, rub their hands on the soap surrounded by netting, and then rinse the soap off their hands.
Now that you can tell how excited I can get over something as simple as my “soap-on-a-rope,” you might better understand why Friday was such a special day.