Sunday, November 30, 2008
I am writing from Barcelona this time, as many of you might now, I came back to my Mediterranean homeland to live, leaving my Nicaraguan school work in the hands of a group of local teachers. From here, however, I am still linked to the project with the mission of getting the funds it needs to continue functioning.
For our next 2009 school course which in Nicaragua starts next February we are still counting on our friends and collaborators: we need instruments in good shape, being our priority percussion, flutes and guitars. Also because we don’t like asking for money” straight up” to get the funds needed for teachers and various expenses throughout the school year, we are offering the 2009 Calendar with pictures of the children in their music classes in exchange for a donation of 8 Euros or 10 dollars. In Granada, (Nicaragua) it can be acquired for only 100 cordobas.
The third edition of our calendar, is again a 13 page wall calendar measuring 24 x 17 cm, but this time it differs from the previous one in design, the volunteer Jose Munian did a photomontage on each page being the results spectacular, I am pretty sure everyone will love it!.
The calendars will be distributed in Barcelona, Bilbao, Pittsburgh and Granada (Nicaragua), but whoever is not in these areas we can mail them via ordinary post and the payment would be done through www.buildingnewhope.org or an account that would be provided. We send calendars all over the world!
If in previous editions we were able to sell hundreds of calendars it was due to all the people that helped us distribute it, so this year again we are asking for help in that area. Ask us for as many calendars as you wish: two, five, a dozen, twenty five, fifty and three… any quantity is more that welcomed and thanked for. The calendars would go your way and the payment would be sent once all the calendars are sold or at the end of the year. Easy, right?
That is it for now. We'll be waiting for good news!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
(PHOTO: Teachers of La Inmaculada at La Prusia give Raül a diploma to thank him for his 5 years volunteering at the school).
Times just flies and after a few months I still haven’t sent any news about Ritmo en los barrios to all its friends and supporters. So, here you have some great news about our music program…
The second edition of our fundraising calendar was such a great success. We sold nearly 800 calendars which brought us over $9000!! This incredible amount allowed us to include permanently in our program two more schools we helped sporadically last year. Right now, we are working in a total of nine schools where over 600 kids are receiving music lessons!!
We used the money to buy more instruments and other supplies needed for the lessons and also to pay salaries to the music teachers. We now have a group of seven locals working in our program, helping us introduce children to the joy of music.
The school year is going very well. The children are learning and having lots of fun with their lessons, and they've done performances in all the celebrations that have been held at the schools such Mother's Day, Teacher's Day, Children's Day, etc where they were able to show their talents to the other schoolmates, teachers and families.
Our teachers are also improving their skills. We're training and monitoring them so we can have high quality music lessons at the schools. We also have several volunteers helping here who are not only supposed to teach the children but they also have to do workshops for the teachers; at the same time, the teachers introduce the volunteers to the Nicaraguan culture and the "life" at the schools. Ritmo en los barrios is a program where everybody learns from everybody.
We were very fortunate to be invited to "Territorios Solidarios", a meeting that took place in Seville (Spain) at the end of May, with international social agents and trainers who use a range of musical events to work in deprived areas with groups at risk of exclusion. It was very interesting meeting people from all over the world who have projects similar to ours so we could exchange experiences and plan starting projects jointly.
Another great event happened thanks to the help of Project Ahimsa, a non-profit dedicated to the empowerment of youth through music. Trough their donations they provide music education to children in poor areas around the world. We got a grant from them in the past, and this year they funded us to capture our student's talents in a studio. They are producing a compilation music album and they asked all their grantees to send them recorded songs featuring children singing and playing instruments. The ten best songs from all submissions will be included in an album they will sell worldwide to make more funds for all the music programs they support.
This was just an unforgettable experience...After a few weekends getting together to practice, students from different remote schools went to a professional studio in Managua to record a CD with some of our "hits". It was a great day; as their parents said, not many could sleep the night before... Don't miss the pictures in our blog where you’ll see kids from Quinta los chavalos, La Prusia, La Camelias and other schools feeling like music stars for one day and having the experience of their lives!!!
More good news, in cooperation with ACE, our friends Judit and Angel's great project, we'll very soon be able to offer music lessons at the community of La Prusia, where there is lots of children and adults interested in learning to play the guitar.
Now talking about me, I'll be moving back to Barcelona in a few weeks after five years in Nicaragua (with Hazel, of course, a very important part of this project!!). My main mission for the last few months was to leave everything settled so Ritmo en los barrios can continue after I leave. Despite I'll still be helping from Barcelona, our wonderful team of young teachers, guided by Oscar Noguera, will be in charge of it. I'm so glad to leave the program in local people hands; that means we're not only educating children but we're helping the local community to develop by creating employments.
...and what else can I say after so long in Nicaragua? Just that it was a pleasure to see all these children growing up (I can't hardly recognize them in the pictures of my first years here!) and also making so many friends. I ended up in Granada by accident when I was traveling around Central America five years ago...I started this project also by accident and all what came after that was an incredible and wonderful history...I’m glad that I leave my small contribution. As I said before, we sold nearly eight hundred calendars, and many donors and volunteers helped too; in other words, there's hundreds of people who believed in it and that means a lot to me. I just have to send many, many thanks to everybody, specially to Donna and Building New Hope for their support all these years.
Now I just hope that I can keep in touch with everybody so together we can make Ritmo en los barrios go on, and I also hope that when I come back to Nicaragua someday, I realize that it was worth spending five years of my life doing this.
Until next time, look after yourselves.
Raül Planas Granada, Augost 2008