Fifteen years ago, when just sixteen, Felix heard, just by chance, the Casa Tres Mundos (C3M) choir sing the Christmas carol The First Noel (La Primera Navidad). He fell in love with the song, the music and the choir. Felix has been involved with C3M ever since. C3M is a cultural centre, music and art school in the heart of colonial Granada (Nicaragua).
Felix Antonio Orozco Altamirano, now thirty-one, was born and raised in Granada, on Caimito Street a few blocks from the Parque central. Strongly encouraged by his father, he completed a five-year university program in Computer Engineering. But Felix could not see himself working all day in front of a computer screen. His true passion was and still is the arts: theater, music, song, and dance. Since the age of sixteen, Felix has been involved in two C3M programs: as a powerful tenor singing in the adult choir and as a participant and instructor for the Lo Creo (I believe it) program.
The Lo Creo program allows children and youth age 8-16 from poorer neighborhoods of Granada, such as Pantanal and Pancasan, to receive free arts classes in music, theatre, visual arts and poetry. Dynamic classes are offered in community spaces by trained arts teachers. The best students perform in public at the end of the year in local neighborhoods, at the C3M auditorium in Granada and even in larger cities such as Managua. More than two hundred children and youth benefit from Lo Creo workshops each week.
Felix began with Lo Creo as a student and quickly became a theatre and music (choir and flute) instructor. Felix explains that Lo Creo represents a unique opportunity for disadvantaged children and youth to learn about the arts. Some of these young people have to work and have little if any time for leisure. For those who go to school, arts education is not included in the Nicaraguan curriculum. For cultural and economic reasons, these children would not come to central Granada to take art classes. For poor and vulnerable children, Lo Creo represents the chance to have fun, learn valuable skills, strengthen self-confidence and open new horizons. The value of the program is evidenced by most students staying involved with Lo Creo for many years. A key lesson learned from Lo Creo is the importance of offering arts programs where the children live, in their own neighborhoods.
Thanks to C3M, Felix has received high quality teacher training and is able to earn a living in the arts—no small feat anywhere but especially in a developing country like Nicaragua. He now combines teaching dance at a local school in the mornings and facilitating Lo Creo art workshops in the afternoons. For Felix, the arts are “a lifestyle, a way to live”. He cannot imagine living without the arts and without C3M. Music, singing and dancing allow him to express his deep emotions and aspirations. For him, C3M is like a “mother’s womb” that allowed him to emerge as an artist. He feels completely at home at C3M and is deeply grateful for all the opportunities to express himself artistically.
Written by Odette Langlais, volunteer, Amigos Casa Tres Mundos
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