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The “Let’s Paint Hope” Program Enriches Children Artistically, Mentally, and Financially

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By Irineo Muñoz

Several years ago, Gilda Pontbriand, an award-winning painter and photographer from Canada, met with professor Irineo Muñoz from the Biblioteca to start a program to teach art to underprivileged children in San Miguel de Allende. What started as painting lessons to teach children a new skill for a better future has become a project involving people in México, the United States, and Canada.

After a few lessons on painting techniques, Pontbriand was so proud of the children that she decided to post pictures of their paintings on her Facebook page. Her friends in Canada reacted positively to the idea of helping these kids by buying their paintings. In the first year, Pontbriand sold three paintings. And so the project “Let’s Paint Hope” was launched.

She took the kids to La Comer supermarket to buy what they needed or wanted to create their art. Since then, children look forward to Pontbriand arriving in San Miguel to teach them how to paint so they can buy things they would otherwise never be able to afford because of the poverty they live in.

Due to Pontbriand’s constant efforts to promote this project in Canada, she managed to sell 25 paintings among her friends last year. All the children arrived at La Comer very excited and with high hopes to buy food, clothes, school materials, and even toys for themselves and for their families. It is heartbreaking to realize that some of these kids had never been in a store before and that some others had never owned a toy.

Pontbriand says that seeing the smiles on their faces made the long hours she spends teaching, taking pictures of the paintings, posting them, and organizing the transfer of the money worthwhile. This is the only hope some of these kids have to learn a skill that might get them out of poverty, she says.

These days, Pontbriand has also found sponsors to provide the paints and brushes for participants. Last year, youngsters from an Ottawa theatre company sent brushes to the kids in San Miguel and a card encouraging them to keep painting.

This year, the kids worked extra hard, motivated by the prospect of selling their paintings and going to the store to buy whatever they needed. Once again, Pontbriand sold over 25 paintings.

The children do not learn only how to paint in this workshop. Participation in this class teaches them that if they work hard and are consistent at what they do, there is a reward at the end. What a wonderful life lesson for these children!

Visit Pontbriand‘s Facebook page at facebook.com/gilda.pontbriand.art to see all these works of art.

 

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