Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Still full of christmas food, and warm from spending a luvley new year relaxing with good friends, I jump on a plane for Nicaragua, with 15 others youth workers and youth, we were each responsible for one youth, my first experience of being some sort of suedo parent, three flights in a row, taking off on the third flight of the day, I started to have a very bizzare feeling where time and space ceased to exist, straight outa Fight Club, or maybe it was just hunger, as id failed to book vegetarian meals and was surviving off mini packets of complementary nuts. 29 hours later we arrive at the hostel, we will be staying for the next ten days.

I wake hungary and we all flock to the canteen to big plates of Gallo Pinto, basically refried rice and beans, suprisingly tasty and filling, lucky since we have it every day for breakfast lunch and dinner.

It turns out this hostel is also a science park, as the owner explains, showing the group around, we see how the coffee around us is stripped of its flesh (coffee is acually the seed inside a red berry, grown on small trees, the berry is sweet) and how the flesh is saved for animal feed, and the juices are filtered throu a reed bed system to prevent it poisoning the land. I was very impresed when he showed us the bio digester, basically big pit of poo with a rubber sheet over it and a hole at the side to put in morepoo and a pipe to extract the gas, five pound of horse manure produced enough gas to cook fifty dishes of Gallo Pinto, and human poo can also be used if mixed with abit of ash, now thats recycling.

The next couple of days are basically familiarising ourselvses with funartes history and princibles, these were founded soon after the revolution, as a way of communitys telling their story's, when the Sandanistas lost the next election the following goverment preceded to paint out all the murals, giving an idea of their true power, as giving the communitys a voice and an identity. Funarte work with representante, youth electeced by thier peer group to train as mural artists, then to pass down this knowlage in massive workshops of 100 children located in the communal building of each barrio. Quite often Funarte run into conflict with the representantes parents, as their youth are perhaps too empowered for their liking, when this happens Funarte run mural painting workshops also with the parents.

The murals are devised through strories, often told by community leaders, a theme is decided, a story, a song, a dance, a poem some artistic endevour is performed around this theme, that is used as an inspiration for the mural, the mural artists work with the community drawing, over time a to scale sketch is made, it is transferred onto the wall by a grid system then is painted in.

I only really got a true picture of the work funarte did when we had a meeting with some of the community leaders , these were unpaid guardians of each barrios interests, if their were any problems they would help sort it out, for example if someone was ill and needed medication but couldnt afford it the leaders would gather money from the community and payfor it, they were ensuring that the peoples revolution twenty years ago was still fully funcioning in their barrios. We all had a chance to talk about our communitys Juanita talked of how women are getting more empowed in Guatemala, Lina talked how women are empowered in Columbia but ultimatly have no power, Wilma talked how in El Salvador thier community had a monthly fund to ensure people had their medical needs looked after and how they also kept thier own blood bank as in el salvador blood is very expensive, and if you cant afford to buy it when you need an operation, you die, so the people have their own supply. I talked about how women and men in ireland are fairly equal (though i later realised that on a buisness and political forum their not at all) and how the rapid influx of big amounts of cash is swiftly destroying the strong community of old, that it is now quite a seperatist, greedy place. Im not sure if this was accurate but i did have a feeling of spiritual poverty compared to these strong people, what is it about money that dopes you up so much you don't notice people around you.

Anyways these leaders work closely with funarte, who work closley with the children, producing murals which are not just pictures on walls but the product of community organisation, emowering people as they are produced, and maintaining these community links as they regulary maintain the murals. well enough talk heres some pictures

new year

Another year, another blog, hello virtual world. well ill just briefly fill you in on what ive been up to since my last entry, well i was totally spun out by the general unfairness of being in california the richest state in north america, and seeing more poverty and desperation than anywhere in central america, but did reafirm my belief that community is the most important thing and at the end of the day makes you richer than any amount of cash. A nightmare three day trip back to mexico city (i thought it would only take a day and a half, and was tortured by very loud badly dubbed films particularly bad was Big Mommas House II, twice)

Back in england landed at the big green gathering, the best place to land wobbly from jet lag, to staight away start working in a cafe, which i was to later perform two sureal and shambolic puppet shows.

Back in Ireland and Tangle Theatre are back in action doing shadow puppet workshops with adults with special needs, which resulted in a very sucessfull christmas show, and simultaineously facilitated stencil workshops to paint a mobile libary with youth from Cork.
The community arts organisation I was working for managed to get funding for some people from La Cambalacha to go Nicaragua to train with Funarte; a youth mural painting organisation, using murals to build on community and address social issues.
There was also funding for me to go as a youth worker on this trip which i will talk about in my next entry.
I must also add that i suffered some sort of bizzare reverse culture shock, after about being back about a month, where nothing in the culture i was living in seemed to make any sense, and I longed to live in a small village, where everyone helped each other out, I still do really, which is whyI relish this opportunity to return an make some sence of it all.............