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Miniatures Are Magical For Ojala Niños!


By Elsmarie Norby

For nine years, Roberta “Bobbie” Norris has offered her great talents as a miniature artist to many Ojala children. Each project involves 8 children who begin with a shoe box, foam core, mat board and their own box of tools. Bobbie brings a prototype so that the children can be in awe and inspired for the work ahead. For 9 years, San Miguel Shoes has donated the shoe boxes and Lavinia’s frame shop has donated the foam core and mat board. The class meets once a week for an hour and a half and the project takes approximately 3 months, depending on the complexity. The themes depict Mexican culture and have included a church, an art gallery, a cemetery, a taco stand, a vegetable market, a cantina and many more. The children are exposed to craft areas such as architecture, painting, furniture construction, clay modeling, upholstery and flower arranging. Above all, they develop the patience to pay attention to detail and produce a finished work that is truly fine. This results in children who feel great pride and confidence in their accomplishment. We at Ojala know that experiences like these with people like Bobbie, plant very fertile seeds for future learning.

Bobbie Norris is a retired registered nurse and has been enjoying Dollhouse Miniatures as a hobby for 30 years. Her dedication to the children of Ojala is worthy of high praise. She spends 5 weeks preparing for each project, making an average of 15 kits per student, plus the finished sample. She asks the same discipline of the students, who have all signed up in advance for the class. They must be on time, they cannot miss a class, except for a really good reason, and there is no fooling around allowed! The children are glad to comply. When visitors come, they are amazed at the industry, the quiet, and the focus they see in the children. Bobbie’s volunteering has produced 21 Mexican themed shoebox miniatures…and she shows no sign of quitting! Educators rarely get to see the results of their efforts over time – but we all know that every child who has spent 3 months with Bobbie Norris will always have that special, unforgettable experience to inspire them in whatever their future holds.

Ojala Ninos is a non-profit organization with daily free classes for children of all ages in the rural indigenous community of San Miguel Viejo. We are a place for learning – with space, materials, ideas and guidance to foster critical thinking and self-confidence.

The word “ojala” has its origin in ancient Arabic, “inshala”, meaning God-willing. In everyday Spanish it’s used to express a hope. But hope is an illusion without opportunity.

The Ojala program is dedicated to offering educational opportunities to all children and their families in this community. You are invited to visit, to volunteer, to donate.

Now Bobbie would like to donate all the prototype miniatures to Ojala, to be visible to visitors in a protected space. For this we need to construct a large cabinet with glass doors. If you’d like to contribute to this project, please contact our director, Susan Williams, If you’d like to share your time and talent with a project, if only for 1 or more sessions, please contact our coordinator, Betty Lopez, Please check out our website:


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