2012 Team Tobati
photos by Garrett Meccariello '13
KO's Team Tobati returns from 14th annual service trip to Paraguay
Seventy-three Kingswood Oxford School students traveled with several KO faculty members, KO graduates and University of Connecticut dental school dentists for Team Tobati’s 14th annual spring break service trip to Tobati, Paraguay, March 11 through March 22.
More photo galleries on the Team Tobati official Web site
Team Tobati, a group dedicated to strengthening the educational and medical institutions of the impoverished area of Tobati, Paraguay, was formed in 1998 by KO Spanish teacher Ron Garcia and several KO students, and the first trip took place in the spring of 1999. Each and every year since then, Garcia, the son of Paraguayan immigrants, has traveled with KO students, faculty, alumni, area medical professionals and others to Tobati during the School’s spring break.
This year’s team members spent their days in Paraguay completing numerous projects, including the construction of a bathroom at Tobati’s Virgen de los Remedios School, which up until this point did not have one.
The team also built a multiuse patio at Maestra Patricia School in the poor Santa Lucia neighborhood. Garcia said the school sends the most students to Team Tobati’s Reinaldo Macchi Institute, which was one of the original projects started in Tobati and is the core of the group’s efforts to increase educational opportunities there. The institute, named for Garcia’s grandfather, was founded and built by Team Tobati, and it continues to be funded by the group.
Garcia said students at the Maestra Patricia School routinely score the best on the standardized test used as part of the Macchi Institute application process and excel once they are enrolled there.
The spring break trip continues every year, Garcia said, because the need is so great. “There are so many villages that lack schools and medical attention,” he said. “Our school [Macchi Institute] for disadvantaged children also needs the annual support that our trip provides.”
This year’s Team Tobati also added a fifth classroom at San Rafael Escuela, a new public grade school that has been built one classroom at a time during each of Team Tobati’s annual visits. The group also worked on constructing a classroom in the poor rural community of Potrero Poli, Tobati, which will allow students to attend high school in their own community instead of going into Tobati every day for classes.
The team also worked in the San Jose Obrero neighborhood, painting, landscaping and taking on additional improvement projects at the local school. Garcia said the school was built by Team Tobati in 2003 so that the poor children of those working in the nearby brick factories wouldn’t have to walk more than 30 minutes and across a river to get there.
“This school and this neighborhood are very special to Team Tobati due to the contagious energy and warmth of the children and the dedication and quiet integrity of their parents,” Garcia said.
Among other projects, the group also did maintenance work on a children’s park, built a sidewalk surrounding a public park, distributed donated clothing to needy families and spent time in local brick factories and sugarcane fields, working side-by-side with Paraguayans. The group also visited every school in Tobati and its 21 surrounding villages to bring soccer balls for each school and toothbrushes and fluoride for each student.
Garcia said the KO students take away important lessons from the spring break mission. “Our students through the trip learn that great things can be done by working together and selflessly,” he said. “They learn that they can be an active and positive part of the larger world.”
For more information on Team Tobati, please visit the group’s Web site at www.teamtobati.org.