El Salvador – 2008

First Volunteer Artists Delegation Returns from El Salvador with Great Success!

I’m confident that if you asked any of the others involved on this trip for comments, they would tell you of a life changing journey, challenging, emotional, yet  it was very successful for both the volunteers and the people of El Salvador especially the young ones. With a little money and a priceless thing called time we did great things.

After over a year of planning, the first Volunteer Artist Delegation to El Salvador returned February of 2008 with photos, powerful thoughts, over whelming emotions, humbled compassion, and a sense of accomplishment that was not disabled by unforeseen difficulties.

With private donations from friends, family, and organizations like Oregon Potters Association, seven artists volunteered to teach these kids. Sher Davidson taught paper making, Donvieve of California taught Mask Making, Tracy Wolf-Paquin taught Book Making with Paint Decoration.  Bob accompanied his wife Elaine Noonan who taught weaving and textiles; she has direct family ties to El Salvador.

El Salvador, Land of Volcanoes, We Made Fire with Nature’s Nuggets for FREE!

Stephanie Burton, Cindy Roach and James DeRosso, members of Oregon Potters Association taught how to make everything from playful monsters to functional pottery.  Weeks before our arrival, manure, what locals call “caca” was gathered by the local children, which was successfully used as fuel for the primitive fired kiln, built on site.  In such an impoverished and deforested country, where every stick of wood is valuable, showing how pottery could be fired for free was a huge bonus. I estimate that we attained around cone 04 or higher temperatures!   All the artists packed and gave materials, supplies, tools, built easels, even tools to make tools.

Most of us want to return, some of us will return, we were planning our next mission even before we left, our minds full of ideas: To teach the people a skill, make something to sell, start a Co-Op.  We have a plan, to put money in the shallow pockets of the people, by the people, for the people, with the people.  Our hearts were so touched; by the joy and kindness of even the poorest of folk, the concentrated focus of the young ones as we taught, and most of all, the power of the joyful smiles from the children, an empowering blessing for us all.

Although education is a luxury for young and old alike in El Salvador, they knew how to be kind, respectful, pay attention, honor strength in the family bond, and extend a smile even us, the American’s, who’s county participated in their civil war.  If compared, I think we would come up a bit short.

Written by Cindy Roach, OPA Member

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