Fundacion Arte del Mundo
"In a small country, in a small town near the middle of the world surrounded by volcanoes and a landscape of spectacular beauty, a small group of people are working to create and grow a center of art, literature and theater for the community where they live and work."
We've found the coolest non-profit in Ecuador, one that works hard to create interesting cultural and learning activities for locals. The work they do is so very impressive. I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Jody Broyles, of the Fundacion Arte del Mundo, about their work. Here's what Jody had to say...
WE: Please tell us about Fundacion Arte del Mundo..
JB: The Fundacion Arte del Mundo (FAM) based in the town of Baños, Tungurahua, Ecuador is a non-profit Arts, Language and Literacy organization recognized by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Culture founded with the intention of creating cultural and educational activities and resources, to the approximately 20,000 residents in an area occasionally affected by the multiple eruptions of Tungurahua volcano. Our prime focus is the creation of a library and to offer ongoing classes, workshops and events in all aspects of the arts, language and literacy that serve toward building creativity, self-confidence and vision within the cultural context of the region.
WE: What was the genesis of Arte del Mundo?
JB: Alegria Mejia Roman and Ray Hood, from the city of Baños formed a small cultural center Arte del Mundo which was optimistically inaugurated September 2, 2006. In spite of a volcanic eruption which had recently occurred. Here they developed classes in art and cultural workshops of interest for the residents of the area. Early in 2008 other people in the community recognizing the success of the arts program and a recently launched literacy project (Lectura Feliz) became aware of the potential for growth the organization would have through renting a building and the creation of a bi-lingual library in which to house the arts program and promote a love of books.
WE: What are the goals of the Fundacion?
JB: First, we are working to increase literacy and access to books in a town that has very few resources. On September 5, 2008 LA BIBLIOTECA INTERACTIVA DE BANOS was opened and currently sponsors events related to art, literacy and education. The library is also the home of the After School Arts and Literacy Program to benefit local working mothers and their children. The large facility also provides classroom space our growing language school.
Currently IDIOMAS DEL MUNDO is teaching Conversational English to children, adolescents and adults. The program is achieving great success in the community. Baños, Tungurahua is a town which thrives on tourism…in fact it is the main support of the 20,000 people who live in the city and the surrounding rural areas. The majority of international tourists, even those from Europe and Asia speak English, although many of them do not speak Spanish. Knowledge of how to communicate in English has become essential for the most people in Baños, many of whom operate restaurants, hotels, tourist agencies, etc.
Although English is taught in the schools, students only receive an average of one hour a week of classes taught by a teacher who is not a native English speaker. The opportunities for adults to learn English in Baños are limited; usually taught in the Spanish Schools, they are prohibitively expensive for the average citizen of Baños. The teaching in both instances centers on grammar, with little or no conversation or creative participation on the part of the student.
Our classes are limited to ten students. The children's classes are team taught by both an English speaking Ecuadorian and a native English speaker. Our classes for adolescents began September 22nd and our adult classes, which began in mid December continue to grow. To date over 60 students have enjoyed the benefits of learning English at prices they can afford. The proceeds from the school help to support the Library and pay the rent of the facility.
WE: How can people help the Fundacion?
JB: Donations of children's books in Spanish, as well as bi-lingual Spanish/English children's books and learning materials are sought to increase the collection.
Cash donations are also needed for purchasing more bookcases, computers and children's learning software, library and art supplies and shipping costs of donated books.
Sponsorships for children in IDIOMAS DEL MUNDO: Even though our prices are very low, (an average of just $1.00 a class), there are still those children who cannot afford English classes. We are seeking $20 a month sponsorships for these children. If you are interested in helping, please contact Jody Broyles (jodyboby [at] yahoo.com) Thank you.
WE: You also have a volunteer program - can you please tell us more about
JB: We are seeking VOLUNTEER ENGLISH TEACHERS and VOLUNTEER LIBRARY HELPERS with or without experience (willing to learn) in our children's library. We prefer a 1 month minimum commitment, longer is better.
We are always looking talented Spanish-speaking ARTISTS and inspiring ARTS EDUCATORS AND WORKSHOP LEADERS, who are interested in sharing their skills on projects aimed at children, youth and teachers.
We prefer volunteers with a minimum age of 23. Other than that, age does not matter! Life experience is great! We have no volunteer fee. We have fully furnished volunteer rooms here at the Library at a very inexpensive cost. The "accomodation donation" helps us pay the rent. If this sounds like something you might like to do, please take a look at our WebPages http://artedelmundoecuador.com/ or write to me jodyboby [at] yahoo.com
WE: I see you have a books program to build a library - are you partnering
with US Schools, or how do you get book donations, and get them down there?
JB: We have received over 500 books from both international and local donors. Approximately half of our donated books were brought to us by Sue O’Riley from the Rural Literacy Project based in Massachusetts. During the month of October, Sue came to us not only bearing beautiful books for children (in Spanish, English and Bilingual Spanish / English), but during the too-short three weeks she visited with us became an invaluable volunteer, teaching English and helping us create an efficient library for children. Sue also brought us a fabulous computer library program with which we can now catalogue our collection. If you are interested in donating books in the US, please contact Sue, who has kindly offered to be our book depot. She will be bringing books down to us on a regular basis. Her email is: (sue.oriley [at] gmail.com) Important: please specify the book donation is for the BIBLIOTECA INTERACTIVA DE BANOS (LA BIB) Thanks.
WE: Could you please share a few examples of the children you help?
JB: Our children are usually "latch key" kids with both parents working hard to support their families in an unstable economy, currently with 10% inflation. Rosa is 8 years old. Before La Biblioteca was open, she, like most other kids had nowhere to go after school, which lets out at 1:30 each day. Many afternoons for these children consisted in hanging around the streets, or their mother's stand in the local market. Now Monday thru Friday there are a whole group of children including Rosa who eagerly wait outside for La Bib to open. Inside they are welcome to read, play board games, learn how to use the computer and participate art projects, all for free.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
JB: Yes, at the present time Fundacion Arte del Mundo is made up entirely of volunteers.
The only people who receive compensation are Ecuadorian teachers. We are seeking donations in order to hire a part time Librarian for La Bib, who is needed to create a stability and consistency in our growing library program. Our future plans include certification of IDIOMAS DEL MUNDO under the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education, which will permit the school to grow and flourish offering a larger educational base of languages to the community.
WE: Thanks so much, Jody, for sharing this with us. What incredible work you're doing.