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Ojalá Niños: A Model Rural Children’s Enrichment Program

By Robin Loving

If you remember the starfish parable, you know we can’t help ’em all, but those who have figured out a way to help some of the less fortunate are shining examples of humanity at its best. What better way to begin a new year than to hear from one such person about how she is enriching the lives of local indigenous children and their families through art, music, and literacy. That’s Elsmarie Norby, founder of Ojalá Niños, who will speak at Rotary on Tuesday, January 5, at 12:30pm at Hotel Misión, Salida a Querétaro 1. The meeting will be free and open to the public.

Rotary Club Presentation
Ojalá Niños: A Model Children’s Enrichment Program
Tue, Jan 5, 12:30pm
Hotel Misión
Salida de Querétaro 1
152 3709

At Rancho de San Miguel Viejo, Norby funds Mexican guides to lead 120 local indigenous children and their families every weekday afternoon in free classes in art, music, Spanish literacy, environmental issues, health, social justice, and social service. “True education comes from inherent curiosity to explore and discover,” says Norby, who provides the space, materials, and ideas for her enrichment program designed for children aged 3 through 18.

Norby’s art classes include painting, drawing, weaving, stained glass, mosaics, miniatures, wood carving, and fine sewing. Music classes include singing, listening, dancing, and playing percussion and simple instruments. Spanish literacy includes speaking, reading, and writing because the children are seldom read to, have extremely limited access to books, and generally do not meet people who speak and write the language correctly.

In environmental affairs, Norby brings in organizations that work for global welfare, such as the Audubon Society and the Society for the Protection of Animals, to offer experiences and classes in planting, clean-ups, animal care, and water issues, among others. To become aware of how the environment can affect their health, the children learn about the local water supply, which has toxic levels of fluoride, arsenic, and general pollution. Social justice and social service are emphasized so that the children learn that it is important to be of service to one’s family, community, and beyond.

Norby, who is a musician, photographer, and community organizer, has plans to build a community learning center for children and adults in San Miguel Viejo and small rural communities in the area. She welcomes volunteers to propose additional projects and new opportunities for the children and their families.

Rotary unites neighbors, community leaders, and global citizens for the common good. For more information, contact President David McGinnis at, see and Contact Elsmarie Norby at


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