Written by: Sasha Hanson Pastran
While I would usually be saying “Happy Halloween” at this time of year, this time I get to say “Feliz Día de Los Agüizotes!” Los Agüizotes is a festival that takes place in the city of Masaya on the last Friday of October every year during which participants dance in the streets dressed up in costumes and masks representing characters from different traditional Nicaraguan horror myths and legends such as La Carreta Náhuatl, La Llorona, La Muerte Quirina, La Mocuana, El Padre sin Cabeza, El Cadejo, and La Chancha Bruja, among others. If this intro peaks your interest you can check out my Nicaragua 2013 Facebook album for pictures of this unique cultural event:)
It has been an exciting and busy month since I last posted (click here to see my last post in September and click here to see my first post in August). First of all, I want to share with you the video (Spanish version) I made of “The Color of Affection,” the FUNARTE project I am working with. It talks about the activities and results of the project in Telpaneca and Quilalí with footage I took from the last couple of months. You can access the English version here.
I also want to share my new favorite day of this internship so far (of course, by now there are many favorite days and simply no time to recount them all!). Since the Color of Affection project is funded by Save the Children we collaborated with them and a coalition of other NGOs and government bodies to organize a National Fair of Action against Violence in Telpaneca on Thursday, October 17th 2013. This ambitious event was part of Save the Children’s seventh annual Global Day of Action against Violence towards Children and Adolescents that takes place around the world on or around October 19th. My co-worker Manuel told me this fair was the largest event a single FUNARTE team has ever organized in the organization’s 24 year history. Although I could imagine he was right with our small team spending months on preparation and planning for this day, since this was a collaborative effort I had no idea just how enormous the event was going to be until the day itself…
On that bright and hopeful morning of October 17th more than 600 girls, boys, educators and parents from the surrounding rural communities made their way over the mountains and rivers, joining hundreds more children and their families in the central community of Telpaneca to enjoy the festivities and promote the fight against violence. Once everyone arrived, the fair got started with a lively and musical parade of girls and boys marching together, waving balloons and flags, and shouting their denunciations of violence to passersby. Large banners with anti-violence phrases made by children in the municipality decorated the town saying things like “Don’t abuse me. I am a little child with a right to life.” As the girls and boys in the parade went by the banners they chanted the phrases painted on them, reminding people that “Domestic violence is a crime. Don’t stay silent,” and that “You have the right to a life without violence.” The banners stayed up after the fair, imploring the community to always say “No to violence. Yes to love.”
After the parade the kids cheerfully gathered in the Central Park for speeches, performances, and fun with the clowns. The kids then got to pass through stations with traditional Nicaraguan games and interactive exhibits of local and national organizations that had information on how to combat violence at the personal, inter-personal, community and societal levels. There was also an enormous exhibition of art made by the children and teachers of Telpaneca in the FUNARTE workshops we’ve been facilitating in the community.
Both children and adults had a great time with all of the activities at the fair while increasing their awareness of violence and reinforcing their commitment to work for peace. It was an absolutely amazing and inspirational day that reminded me why I am here: to work together in solidarity with people for human rights and for a more peaceful community for everyone, especially for children. The whole community had been involved in executing this enormous event in a normally sleepy town, which shows that by collaborating and organizing at the grassroots level we can achieve so much more than anyone could ever achieve alone. Everyone honored the fact that the children were at the heart of this fair and you could really see the sense of empowerment the girls and boys felt throughout the day. I hope to have the fortune to be a part of more days like this one here in Nicaragua, back in Canada, and wherever I may go.
Lastly, I just want to say thank you so much to all the readers of this blog for your continued interest in my experiences here in Nicaragua. Stay tuned next month for my last blog post on mural painting and more lessons learned during my internship!
Dale pues! Hasta la próxima!