As some of you may know, I took violin lessons years ago, and have been teaching myself some tunes since then. (Mostly when Herman and the kids were away from home, because my skill level is pretty much "excruciating".) BUT I LIKED IT.
So after reading the post it took me a couple of weeks of thinking it over (and considering that after all the years I still struggle with the vibrato on the violin), I decided to donate the violin and the sheet music. I had to find the website again and then had to contact the one English speaking person to set up a meeting. Within a matter of minutes of sending my message, I had a delivery time set up for Friday morning.
When Winnie arrived, Herman and I thought we'd hand over the violin and books and be done with it, but Winnie wanted to take pictures and invited us to see the room where the kids practiced and gave us an overview of their situation. We were happy to oblige.
The Orquesta Sinfonica Infantil y Juvenil is a local group that caters to disenfranchised children in a marginalized community in the south of Mérida. From all accounts, the social impact of this organization is big and the students and their parents are invested in the positive impact it has on their young lives. The children in the orchestra are all ages and skill levels. They are disciplined and motivated to participate and have to sign contracts to borrow instruments when they need to practice at home.
Winnie introduced us to Alexis, who is the conductor of the group and they showed us the room that is on loan to them at the youth centre. The medium sized room houses 100 students every weekday from 4 - 7 pm for practice. All the instruments, chairs, music stands and the room are on loan for one year; courtesy of a government initiative. This term is coming to an end soon. My violin and another broken instrument are the only two items they have received so far. Winnie was excited to share that they are fortunate to have a wonderful American volunteer (Julei) who is helping them with their business plan and grant applications. Winnie's enthusiasm was contagious, but it was clear that they would need a lot of help if they wanted to "stay in business".
This type of social initiative promotes pride in the culture (they perform wearing their traditional dress) and it exposes these children to opportunities that will hopefully enable them to look up and see the potential out there rather then just the day to day struggle of their environment. It also typically provides something to keep idle minds busy, which as a parent of teens not so long ago, I know is really important.
Mérida is one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico, with migrants arriving daily from Central and South American countries, and also from other states in Mexico. This is happening because the Yucatán is the fastest growing economy in Mexico. However poverty is still a reality for many in this lovely state. Social challenges include unemployment and living wages, but even running water in houses are not a given. Research has proven that youth programs benefit communities through cohesiveness and the study of arts stimulates cognitive function and development.
|Winnie and I.|
|Herman holding the books - this is the picture that Winnie wanted for their fb page.|
|The youth centre in the southern colonia of San Jose Tecoh Sur in Mérida.|
|The grounds at the youth centre.|
|Seriously large Mexican flag at the Galeria.|
|Galeria food court.|
|Ice rink and entrance to Liverpool Department Store.|