Music rooms for 200 children
in an Oaxaca slum
Southwest of Oaxaca City, near a huge dump, is the shantytown of Vicente Guerrero. Nearly 14'000 people live here in very small sheet metal spaces, without running water and sometimes without electricity. Every day, poverty and violence threaten children to be used by drug cartels and criminal gangs.
La Banda de Musica, French Association
The permanent mission of Mexico to the United Nations and the Mexican community of Geneva
Axel Arañó, renowned Mexican architect, volunteer
In Santa Cecilia, during the pandemic
The music changes pace, never stopping ! Students take online lessons with their teachers and volunteer musicians from around the world. During successive school closures, construction work progressed despite everything, with a small number of workers on site and strict sanitary measures.
A community project
It is in one of the slums of Oaxaca that the Santa Cecilia music school was born in 2011. The dream of creating a marching band to get away from the violence and dangers of the streets is that of the children themselves, supported by the parish and the community. The objective of the Don du Chœur is to help these young people to practice their instrument and to rehearse in good conditions.
Double the capacity of the Santa Cecilia school and allow more children to flourish through music, in order to keep them away from street violence and drugs.
- Isabelle de Boves, French airline pilot, collects used instruments that she transports to Oaxaca. She created the association “La Banda de Musica” to support the development of this school. Between 2014 and 2016, some premises were built to store the instruments. Two instrument repair workshops (winds and strings) are open to the public and meet with great success, even becoming a source of income for the school. The community acquired new land to expand its music school in 2017. The following year, the Don du Chœur Committee traveled to Oaxaca to study the expansion project.
- The Don du Chœur Concert at Victoria Hall on May 9 is sold out. The 400 choristers from private schools in Geneva sing for the expansion of the music school. They perform in particular Cielito Lindo, on a recorded accompaniment of the children of the Santa Cecilia music school. The children of Switzerland and Mexico become one!
- Start of work and construction of two large rehearsal rooms with two storage rooms for musical instruments.
- Mexico is in lockdown. Due to the scale of the health crisis, schools are closed. The future of the music school is compromised because families, living confined and without work, can no longer contribute to school fees and finance the salaries of teachers who give online lessons. The “Stay at Home” directive is difficult for many people who live day to day and have to go out to feed their families. The Don du Chœur decides to sell Mexican masks in Geneva to help the neediest families in the school by buying them sanitary equipment, food and drinking water, paying teachers’ salaries and telephone credits to children for their online music lessons.
- Resumption of work with the extension of the covered space used for general rehearsals of the orchestra. Tremendous ! The great charity evening on October 11 in Geneva exceeded all objectives: CHF 12’000.- to complete the expansion work and to support university students!
- will be devoted to the construction of 10 rooms which are used for the individual work of each instrumentalist. Priority is given to the sewer network; the expansion work is therefore delayed.
The construction of two rehearsal rooms of 64 m2 and two storage rooms for string and wind instruments has been completed: students can now develop their talent as young musicians in much better conditions. A second phase of work is completed in 2022. This time, it is the covered area that is enlarged. General rehearsals for the entire orchestra now take place outdoors, sheltered from the sun or rain.
Today, the school is able to accommodate 152 young people aged 7 to 20 who take music lessons six days a week. For them, unquestionably, music is a factor of social cohesion and education. Some early school leavers are returning to school. The most talented pursue training at the conservatory or university: Don du Chœur supports eight students through a scholarship of CHF 1,500.- per year for their university music studies in Mexico City. A gesture of generosity on your part will allow us to continue supporting them in 2023.