To ensure her 18 students don’t miss out on their lessons during the pandemic, a teacher spends up to eight-hours a day riding on horseback to get to her pupils.
Her name is Cicilia Gatica. Cicilia is a 52 year old teacher at the Sara Cruz Alvayay school in the village of Juntas de Valeriano in Chille. The village is situated at the foot of the Andes and has really poor internet connection with many of the school’s pupils unable to get online at all.
Cicilia decided to arrange one-on-one lessons with her students so that none of them fall behind. In order to do this, she has to ride a horse for up to eight hours a day to make sure she reaches all of them. She reached out to the families of all of her pupils and tried to pull together a strategy to keep the classes going.
She told local media, “The children asked me if I could visit them at home, and I said ‘of course! No problem.”
Some of the students’ families had taken them to the mountains with them to help rear cattle or carry out other farm work. This made her devise an alternative plan to fulfil her students’ request, and asked their parents for a horse, telling them: “I’ll get to where you are with your children.”
Cicilia she has been visiting each of her students twice a month, which has required a lot of effort on her part. Her journeys to get to students cover long distances over difficult terrain to reach her students, often traversing ravines. However, her efforts have not gone unnoticed, she’s been awarded the Nuevos Heroes (New Heroes) award by Chilean private clearing house Caja Los Heroes.
According to the organisers, she received the recognition in a ‘tremendously complex year due to the pandemic’, in which ‘there were many anonymous heroes’, who were ‘nominated for their relevant help to others with regards to the necessities generated by Covid-19’.
“This prize does not mean this is going to stop. I’m going to continue even stronger.” Cicilia said.