Casa de Cultura
Casa de Cultura
outside casa de cultura
Outside Casa de Cultura
inside casa de cultura
Inside Casa de Cultura

I am suppose to be in Argentina helping but look at the name we have decided for our new project.

‘Casa de Cultura, San Aloysius’

It really is impossible for anyone here to pronounce!

Casa de Cultura, San Aloysius is under way. The three rooms have been named following a competition with over 100 excellent suggestions from SAC students.

 The Bethesda Room of Art, suggested by Courtney Weir in 10CP. Bethesda meaning Mercy in Hebrew – an excellent name Courtney.

The Adelaide Room of Artisania, suggested by Baseira Safi. Well done Baseira.

The Juan Guarmera Music Room, courtesy of Juan Guarmera – thank you Juan for opening my eyes.

With the help of the Argentine project manager, Maria Aleman, ‘we’ decided on the name as ‘Casa de Cultura, San Aloysius’. I wasn’t really going to go for the ‘Evans’ Jive Joint!’ although I was tempted.

Maria writes,

‘ Obligado is one of the suburbs located in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. It is extremely poor, so much so that people living there survive by picking up other’s rubbish from the streets. They also do occasional work, which is never well paid.

Children living in this suburb suffer absolute lack of family love and attention since their parents spend the whole day in the streets. The children are either taken to work with the parents or they are left in different corners of the barrios, opening taxi doors or asking for money……..

These children will grow up without going to school. They will spend their days in the streets, deprived of every care and protection. They will become adults having many years of marginality, making it impossible for them to acquire an education or working income. They will develop no work ethic and have little idea of hygiene or personal care.  They have little chance of entering into ‘society’.

In these often illegally occupied shanty town communities there are large groups of Latin American immigrants such as Paraguayans, Peruvians and Bolivians, making the social cohesiveness in these communities even more complicated.

Children with very difficult backgrounds are thus dragged along struggling to survive into adolescence. In most cases, drugs and alcohol provide their escape from the very harsh childhood memories of abuse and neglect. Crime is seen as their only option to subsidise these addictions.

So what is the latest barrio project that SAC donations are helping to fund?

We have established a start-up fund of 2,000 pesos and taken over a largely abandoned house. We intend to provide the youngsters and adolescents living in this suburb a place of their own that will protect them from the perils of being on the streets.

We intend to offer these children the chance to improve their self-esteem by participating in worthwhile learning opportunities. Through their involvement in Art, Music, Theatre, Artisania and Recreational activities, these children will not only develop a sense of community but also realize their own gifts and abilities.

We hope that through this centre, these neglected children and young adults will discover their self-worth and seek a productive participation in the wider community.

The first steps have been taken. Today the electricity is being upgraded. Makeshift cables crossing the walls, floors and ceilings were incredibly dangerous. The painting of the interior and exterior is being fast-tracked – ‘Australian timetable’ has been requested. ‘I want it started tomorrow.’ ‘I want it finished before Mercy Day 24th September!’

I am trying to be diplomatic but I am running out of time!

The next phase of the project is to supply teachers in the various disciplines that will take place in the Centre.

Maria’s words,

‘We are well aware that the depth of conflict derived from their misery and marginality will not vanish by these activities. But at the same time we cannot remain motionless while thousands of young children live absolutely hopeless lives and middle class communities entrench themselves in security compounds so as not to become victims of delinquency’.

Poverty alone is terrible. It’s worth mobilizing for. I cannot remain idle when children are being emotionally, physically, sexually and psychologically tortured in these horrendously poor communities.

Eight million people are living in shanty towns in Argentina and the government is doing nothing. That’s a lot of children living terrible lives. As humans we must do better.

As an Australian living in ‘The Lucky Country’ I want to do more. On my return I want to organise a meeting to form a working party of teachers, parents and students who wish to lend a hand by adopting and supporting a barrio project. The SAC community has proven itself a formidable force in caring for others. I am so proud of the SAC community’s spirit of mercy and I am hopeful that we could take the message to the wider community. At the very least, we could share the mercy spirit that lives in our hearts.

I hope we can get together to fix a wrong. A wrong against silent victims. A wrong against children.

It doesn’t matter that it is not ‘our’ country.There are children suffering and I know them personally. I want to help them. I want to do more for them.

Te mando un beso,