This is the second in a series of blogs from our Founder, John Kerr, reflecting on his recent trip to Oaxaca.
Second day: Friday November 7th…
Boni to Juan: “I will pick you up at 8:30 am sharp at Sylvia’s.” (Sylvia’s is the awesome $20.00 US per night with hot water and breakfast included where we always stay.)
Juan to Boni: “How about 10:00 am?” (I am tired from a first night in the Zocalo and my frantic day of flying.)
Boni to Juan: “No, better do 8:30 because we are going to a concert and we don’t want to be late!”
OK dudes! How about a concert with Orquestra Basura—loose translation is Garbage Orchestra—to start the day?! Go Boni! I am all in…yawn…zzzz…ok…. LET’S ROCK!!!
We drove the 30 minutes to the community of Vicente Guerrero, home of the huge Oaxaca municipal garbage dump. Bonifacio Luis Hernandez, FOP’s community organizer supreme, operates the center and works with the 14 schools that surround the dump, in all sorts of important matters. At the FOP Community Center there is a very large open and covered area that was all set up with hundreds of seats already filled with school kids of the 4th -8th grade variety. The kids were ready and so was the Orquestra Basura, all the way from Mexico City! They looked the part and they had a great sound. Soon I forgot what time of day it was and was rocking along with the rest of them!
The music was LOUD, fun, really good rock music, and the kids—everyone actually—went wild! I have video if you ever want to see it and go crazy yourself!
I saw a bunch of kids I know from the Símbolos Patrios School where we have our Oaxaca Kids Can program and they recognized me; that was the icing on the cake for me on the concert. It was cool to have this community concert at the FOP community center and it shows you how well Boni and thus FOP’s activities are integrated into the lives of the people.
All this time I am looking for my special Símbolos Patrios friend, Noemi, and I was a little disappointed not to find her. More on that later.
So how much fun can you have in Oaxaca…how great a day can you have when traveling with FOP to Vicente Guerrero? More fun that just a rock concert in the morning and this is hint #1 why you should go on a FOP team trip!
After the concert, we stayed at the community center and the Book Mobile arrived. There were dozens of kids and a number of teachers there to take advantage of the opportunity. The Book Mobile is like a truck or van that looks like what used to deliver our clothes from the cleaners about 100 years ago when they did stuff like that. It is fully loaded with books. The kids seem to love it like it was the ice-cream truck or kettle corn man or something like that. It was very exciting and motivating to be around these motivated kids and very enthusiastic teachers and interested parents. All reading or being read to at tables or under the big tree at the community center. Boni is bringing in the Book Mobile many times per week and it is a big hit!
I am reading A Path Appears by Nicholas D Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. Nicholas is from Yamhill County, and both write for the New York Times. They wrote the amazing book Half the Sky and they have won a Pulitzer Prize. In A Path Appears, they make the case for kids learning to read early as well as for parents to read to children. No age is too early to start. These practices lead to academic success perhaps more than anything else we know of. I have talked to Boni about teaching the value of reading to your kids at early ages in his adult education classes. In addition, Boni and his Book Mobile are fostering reading at early ages!
It was so exciting to see that these very poor kids who live in this garbage dump community have a tremendous desire to read and learn and that they are fed by very enthusiastic teachers who believe in their potential!! Their parents are involved too. With Boni and our support I personally believe you are going to see some pretty amazing things come our of the dump community of Vicente Guerrero—making it instead a hot bed of educational successes!!! How cool is that going to be?
I want to thank you for everything you are doing to make this good work possible. Without you we have nothing but some pretty dang good ideas! Gracias.