Above are a few of the young adolescents (and a rowdy younger brother) from my painting group in the barrio Jorge Dimitrov. It is one of the top three “trouble” zones in Nicaragua, and the inner-city neighborhood where the Centro Cultural Batahola works as an out-reach. The CCBN works through the Trocaire foundation to fund this project, which has officially been financed for four years. CCBN staff work with groups of men, women, and adolescents in violence-prevention, with a focus on gender-based violence prevention. They often hold workshops around self-care and human rights, and also work with the local police, teachers, and school administrators from the barrio. With the adolescents, they offer classes in dance, theater, and painting, as this is a strength of the CCBN.
The kids that come each week (I have two different groups) vary in their attendance levels, but generally there are between 10-15 present. Some go to school in the morning, or the afternoon, and hence there are two different groups.
Children here face more challenges than I am fully aware of. Most are surrounded by various types of violence, poverty, and the lack of opportunities, not to mention the stigma of coming from Dimitrov While by no means a trained facilitator or art teacher, I try to offer what I can in means of art techniques. I’m discovering the most I can offer is a safe space where they learn how to communicate better, work together, and the opportunity for creative expression. Those who run up to greet me each week make the sometimes difficult work worth it. Transformation and hope break through in small signs.