The Way of the Cross in school

The Way of the Cross in school (By Luisa Pernalete)

The way of the Cross, in the Spanish tradition, is the way of Jesus to the Cross, to his death. It is a path of falling, of getting up, where he found people that helped him and also people who laughed at his pain. After his death: resurrection and life.

The Way of the Cross that we present today is that of a common school of any popular area in Venezuela. Of course these scenes of pain are not the only scenes that our teachers, students and families live, but if we want to get up, we must be aware of the sufferings and falls that take place in the school and as educators, we wish to be with those that help Jesus to get up.

1. - First Station: Again with no water! Venezuela is one of the countries with the largest sweet water reserves in the world, but in many schools, water is often lacking and that makes teaching difficult. There has also been no water in the community today, poor mothers, how have they managed today? We wish to work together to face these problems.

2. - Second Station: Rux does not learn how to read. Her name is criollo, but she is a native. She does not speak Spanish well. Her parents came to the city since there were no schooling facilities in their community. Her teacher knows that she is intelligent but she must be very lonely in the classroom. How many like her in Latin America and in Europe. But we know that even if we are different we can live in peace. Let us pray so that our eyes may "listen" to the silences of those who are different.

3. - Third Station: David skipped school again. We don't know what is going on. He only says that he doesn't want to come. Although the other day he told a friend that he is afraid to walk the two blocks from the bus station to the school, "there are big boys that want to take my snack". His mother doesn't know what to do. It is not easy nowadays to encourage the children to go to school, since there are many temptations outside. Sometimes we cannot even count those who are missing. Let us pray so that we may understand before judging the missing students.

4. - Fourth Station: Del Valle was hit again! She is in second grade. Her parents have problems and they take it on her. We don't know how many suffer violence at home. It is not enough to have laws if we don't go to the causes. Let us pray so that we don't loose our sensitivity before domestic violence.

5. - Fifth Station: They attacked our teacher when she was coming to school! It is not the first time that violence is on wheels, in the buses. The robberies are daily practice. Some are brave and stand up to them, like Juana the teacher "They were "charnos", the age of our third graders; it was very painful to see". Some do not work in dangerous areas, but which are the non dangerous? In spite of it we still have teachers that go every day to school. Let us pray to be among those who do not abandon.

6. - Sixth Station: Jonny is leaving; he was threatened by a gang! He is the third to leave this year. The youth get into trouble or they face the gangs or what happened to Jonny. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time: he witnessed a murder and the gang saw him. "If you talk, we kill you". He is afraid to go out, afraid to go to school. There are many weapons in the area, a lot of drugs, unemployment and society pushes the youth to get by force what they cannot get with money. There are also many youths walking peaceful paths, more silent with no media coverage. Let us pray so that those paths may multiply and become bigger than the evil ones.

7. - Seventh Station: Julian's father lost his job! Is unemployment a problem of learning? Yes because everything becomes difficult at home: parents feel hopeless and are anguished, there is no money for school and the little ones don't understand why others have and they don't. Simon Rodriguez said it two centuries ago "teach the students useful things and give the parents work, if not the students don't learn. Extreme poverty is very violent. This is why we must be actors of a quality education that may offer tools for life.

8. - Eighth Station: It was not talcum powder it was drug! Today a boy found a little bag with white powder in the recreation area, but it was not talcum as he thought in the beginning, it was drug. How did it get here? How many more packages without having seen them? Last month a drug holder threatened an eleven year old student "sell this but if you tip us off..." The boy looked for help and we managed to save him. One was saved. We have to work more on this.

9. - Ninth Station: A fire weapon in class VII A ¡Yes, we suspected that something was going on but we didn't know it was so serious, a fire weapon! What is a fourteen year old doing with a gun in his bag? Where did he get it from? They tell us that in the community there are those who rent guns to young people, someone told us that even the police rented or sold them. Of course nobody knows anything. "Teacher, you come and go but I live here!" We must disarm but not only the visible weapons but also the invisible ones: the culture of violence that is creeping into us without asking permission. At church, on Sunday, they did an act of disarming of words: the children wrote aggressive words and burnt them, and then they wrote friendly words and kept them. Let us pray so that we teachers may know how to use our blackboards, our lips, our hands for peace and not for violence.

10. - Tenth Station: They killed Wilmer! They said it was a spray bullet but they're wrong. There are no spray bullets, bullets always hurt, kill. Wilmer was at a corner talking to friend. It was not late, he was doing nothing wrong, but two gangs were after each other, shooting bullets as if they were sweets. "Getting even, paying debts" debts that others pay, the innocent ones. One of those bullets hit Wilmer. Like the eight youth that were killed in El Vigía. "By mistake" they said. Is to live a mistake? The majority of violent deaths in Venezuela are between the ages of 15 and 24. Which country has the teachers burying the students like this one? We cannot remain as if nothing had happened, not only for Wilmer but for all the others, all those who have died and those who live. Violent death should not be seen in school as something usual. We educate for life. We have to resurrect in every act of indignation against violence, in each deed to find peace.

Luisa Pernalete

Ciudad Guayana , abril 2009