A few years ago, about eight, we brought you the story of Irma Ayçaguer Ciganda, a Basque woman from Uruguay, born in 1917, who spent her life showing off the best values we Basques claim as those which define our collective essence: social commitment and work for the community.

The details of her life’s work can be read in the article we published at the time, but, as a summary, we wanted ot highlight some of the reasons why we make that claim:

They left the northern parts in the 1950s to move to Rocha department, on the east coast.  This region is characterized by flatlands and plenty of surface water, making it the perfect place to grow rice and livestock, which is what European colonists did.  The couple settled down to grow rice on the Corral de Palma ranch, which had been fenced in by the colonists to keep their cattle in.

And it is there where she proved her profound social sensitivity by building, organizing, and running a school, complete with all government permits, for the children of the workers maintaining those rice plantations.  Her goal was to prevent the family destructuring that would mean that the children would have to live far from their parents in towns in order to get their schooling.

What’s more, throughout all those years, until her death in 1983, she made sure to provide books and show films in areas where there was no electricity, using not only the projector, but also a generator for the necessary electricity.

After her death, her children continued her work.  That led the Uruguayan Senate to designate Rural School #99 in Rocha Department as the Irma Ayçaguer Ciganda school in 1998.

This school turned 50 on March 12.  The anniversary was celebrated on April 28 in style by the community that has had this essential piece of infrastructure as a cornerstone for the past half century.  Not only has it ensured children receive an education, it has also been a focal point for culture and continuing education for people of all ages.

We were told of the event by one of her sons, Pedroso Bonay, who our readers can know better thanks to his contribution about the Market Port in Montevideo.

This celebration shows us just how important this school is for the residents nearby.  This is clearly seen in the reports, photos, and videos about the event that broadcaster Nueva radio Lascano shared on their Facebook page.

Also, the National Public Education Administration of Uruguay (ANEP) also reported on the event.  Not only do they cover the anniversary, the number of students, and how the school works, they also highlight the spirit that gave rise to the school that is still felt today:

“La escuela está dentro de un predio privado, dentro de la arrocera Bonino Hermanos. La empresa se encarga del mantenimiento del local escolar, la auxiliar es contratada por la empresa también, aunque Primaria (DGEIP) se encarga del comedor.”

(“The school is on private land, on the rice fields owned by the Bonino Brothers.  The firm takes care of maintaining the school property, and services are also paid for by the company, though the DGEIP takes care of the lunchroom.”)

As we said five years ago, when speaking of this Basque woman and her school:

“The history of the Basques and of nations like Uruguay are built on some great histories, but upon many, many more smaller ones.  And it’s not that they’re small, per se, it’s just that they aren’t recorded in the history books.  But they make up the bread and butter of the spirit of our people.  It is they who are largely responsible for the personality and morale of a people.”

We have brought you many of these stories, big and small, that have happened in Uruguay and where Basques are protagonists.  But among them, this one, which shows our community’s commitment with people and with giving them and their community the tools they need for development is the one we like most.

We’ll leave you with some photos and videos, brought to us by Nueva Radio Lascano and the report on the ANEP website.

Presentation of the school’s history, by Raquel Ferreira Bonino

Rocha-born singer-songwriter Ricardo Fernández Mas presented a “chamarrita” he wrote, written in the school’s honor
Photo album of the event

ANEP – 5/5/2023 – Uruguay

La escuela rural N°99 de Rocha cumplió 50 años y lo celebró con una fiesta y comida típica de la zona

La escuela N°99 Irma Aiçaguer Ciganda de Bonino, situada en el kilómetro 159,500 de la ruta 15, de Arrozal Bonino (departamento de Rocha), cumplió medio siglo de vida y lo celebró con una fiesta con chamarrita y una comida típica de la zona. La escuela lleva el nombre de su fundadora, la esposa de Luis Bonino, ex propietario de Bonino Hermanos, una empresa arrocera y ganadera de Rocha. Desde entonces, el centro educativo -a 135 kilómetros de la capital departamental, Rocha- se ha nutrido de niños que son hijos de los trabajadores de la empresa rural.

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Last Updated on Dec 3, 2023 by About Basque Country

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