Ojalá Niño’s Art in Fábrica La Aurora
By Elsmarie Norby
The Ojalá Niños afternoon education program in the rural community of San Miguel Viejo has been giving many local children extraordinary opportunities to learn, explore, and discover their interests and gifts through arts, music, literacy, and environmental and social service. Ojalá Niños has been operating for more than seven years and has been recognized as a non-profit for five years.
There are hundreds of inspiring stories about the transformations in the lives of these children, the most recent about Juan Daniel Ramirez, age 15, who began to work with stained glass when he was 10, first with Susana Alonso for a brief period, then with Tom Frazee, when a group of teens worked on large stained-glass windows for a chapel near the community of Jalpa. For almost three years, Ramirez has been working without any teacher, bringing two other boys to the workshop and teaching them to make stunningly beautiful stained-glass pieces. These have all sold at markets and fairs, with the boys receiving 80 percent of every sale. Working together as a small business cooperative, they kept 20 percent to fund their tools and materials. All classes for all children at Ojalá are free.
A few months ago, Ramirez showed up at his workshop with a large plaster jaguar. He’d apparently found it somewhere and proceeded to cover it with an amazing stained-glass design. When finished, it was truly a work of art by a 15-year-old boy, and it demanded attention. A photo was sent to Marilo Carral, always a supportive friend to the children of Ojalá. She immediately said that she wanted it in her gallery at the Fábrica La Aurora!
The jaguar is now on display in all its glory for all to see. There are two other groups of Ojalá children that work cooperatively, one in traditional weaving, and the other with a large variety of hand-sewn items. Watch for further news of exhibits by more Ojalá Niños. We welcome visitors and volunteers in various areas to help with the offering of alternative education opportunities for children whose futures are bleak without them. Curiosity is the engine for learning; space, materials, ideas, and guidance provide the fuel. This is Ojala’s gift to every child.
To see us in action or to join our efforts, contact Irma Rosado or Betty López at firstname.lastname@example.org for Irma; email@example.com for Betty.
And see our website: www.ojala-ninos.org. Ojala means “God willing” or hope. Ojalá Niños is “hope with opportunity.”