The eyes of hope in this photo of Christopher López say it all and are worth every word. He is looking for his mother in the crowd who came to hear him, his sister and another 40 kids from the National Music Education System (Sinem), among whom there is no distinction based upon spending power, color or gender. On stage, with their Christmas hats, they are all equal.
The opportunities they have, however, are not the same. Pamela, his nine-year-old sister, his mother Gilma and he have faced everything to reach this point. With violin in hand, they have broken through barrier after barrier, from their father’s severe disability after a motorcycle accident to bullying, depression, low self-esteem, poverty and the lack of money to pay for a taxi.
Sinem in Liberia gives a violin to two children from poor homes and changes the families future. This is a story about what music is capable of achieving, in spite of everything.
Director of Sinem in Liberia, Roxana Borges, is right when she says that the program doesn’t create musicians, but human beings. “Human and social development through music,” she says. Through practice, they learn respect, tolerance and teamwork.
Keeping the students interested requires effort and strategy. That’s why there are no grades or qualifications associated with their performance, but the program does demand that kids stay in school in order to continue learning.
In Guanacaste, scholastic exclusion is often linked to poverty, but Sinem has agreements and scholarships with the Institute of Mixed Social Aid and the National Scholarship Fund for those who live in extreme poverty or those, like Pamela and Christopher, who can’t afford to pay the enrollment fee because of financial problems.
Congress and the government must protect and expand programs like Sinem by budgeting for them, promoting alliances and properly overseeing resources. The look in Christopher’s eyes is worth it.