Growing Out of Poverty, Violin in Hand

From Sistema Fellow Jennifer Kessler…

All throughout our trip, we were told that many of the children in nucleos (music sites) come from neighborhoods with high crime, drug-use, and lack of essential resources like water and electricity. But I didn’t fully grasp this until a few of us visited Soroco, a school with an in-school Sistema program, located next to a dump site near Calabozo. “The culture is completely different here,” a lovely violin teacher explained. “It’s an incredibly difficult life for these children. They have nothing. Many of them only eat one meal a day.” These children, ages 5-8, go to work at the dump site after school so that they can make some money for their families to eat. The longer term goal here is to keep these children in the Sistema so that, instead of living a life at the dump site, they can identify other opportunities in their lives, such as working in music through teaching and playing.

After we taught for awhile, the nucleo leaders asked us if we’d like to go fruit-picking. Looking around the school at the desolate fields, we couldn’t possibly imagine what they were talking about. Maybe we misunderstood the Spanish?

We began to walk down a path alongside the school. There was garbage everywhere. It looked like the people living in these houses have been using their backyards as a trash-dump. And then we looked up, and there were hundreds of trees, bearing fruit! Here, in the middle of a  dump site, grew fruit-bearing trees.

And as those children and music teachers back at the school strive through music, they, too, are planting the seeds of a tree that will bear them fruits of possibility for the rest of their lives.