The Comprehensive Pilot Program to Combat Urban Poverty trains children and adolescents in theater, music, dance and visual arts.
By René Novoa for Infosurhoy.com – 20/12/2012
Honduras’ Comprehensive Pilot Program to Combat Urban Poverty’s (PPICPU) theater group performed The Wizard of Oz at the Teatro Manuel Bonilla, the country’s most important cultural space, in August. (Courtesy of the PPICPU)
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – They held one another’s hands, took a bow and received a standing ovation.
The ovation, which occurred on Nov. 29 at the Teatro Manuel Bonilla in Tegucigalpa, was not given to established professional actors and actresses. Instead, the audience was cheering for participants in the arts festival offered annually by the Comprehensive Pilot Program to Combat Urban Poverty (PPICPU).
The actors were among 7,000 children and adolescents who since 2003 have received an opportunity to get off the streets and away from the country’s gangs by joining the PPICPU.
The program, which is run by the Ministry of Finance and part of the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (ERP), seeks to use art as a tool for social inclusion, promoting family involvement and building the self-esteem of children and adolescents, according to Jacqueline Duarte, PPICPU’s general coordinator.
The program helps at-risk youth develop their artistic talents, Duarte said.
According to the 2011 Permanent Household Survey conducted by the National Statistics Institute (INE), 61.9% of the 8.2 million residents of Honduras live below the poverty line.
Rolando Padilla, 16, grew up in the neighborhood of Villafranca, five miles west of the capital city of Tegucigalpa. Police consider Villafranca a high-risk area due to the proliferation of gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Mara 18.
Padilla was unable to envision a better future for himself – until now.
Since 2008, he’s participated in the PPICPU. It was through the program that he performed last August in The Wizard of Oz at Teatro Manuel Bonilla, the most important cultural center in the Central American country.
Jacqueline Duarte, general coordinator of the Comprehensive Pilot Program to Combat Urban Poverty (PPICPU), said the program’s original goal is to keep children off the streets. “Now, we’re taking the next step, which is training professional artists.” (René Novoa for Infosurhoy.com)
“I feel happy because I never thought that one day I would perform at Teatro Manuel Bonilla,” he said, adding he also has participated in performances of The Little Prince, Honduras un solo latido, Dreams of Christmas, Mais que nada, The Arabian Nights, Alice in Wonderland and Romeo and Juliet, which the PPICPU stages on a quarterly at major theaters nationwide.
For the last four years, Padilla has taken morning classes at the PPICPU before attending school in the afternoon.
“I want to become an artist,” he said. “That’s my dream.”
Juan Carlos Ríos, 17, left home when he was 9 and spent four years selling candy and washing car windows on the streets of San Pedro Sula, 151.6 miles north of Tegucigalpa.
“We needed to eat,” he said.
But four years ago, Ríos was taken in by Casa Alianza Honduras, a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk youth, and encouraged to enroll in middle school and get involved with the PPICPU.
“Casa Alianza and theater saved my life because I don’t know what would have happened to me if I’d stayed in the streets,” he said.
He completed his apprenticeship at PPICPU and is now in his third year of high school.
“When I finish school I want to study systems engineering in college,” he said. “I now know that big things will happen in my life.”
Rolando Padilla (center), 16, is seen as a future star of Honduran theater, according to Armando Valeriano, PPICPU’s drama professor. (René Novoa for Infosurhoy.com)
Armando Valeriano, PPICPU’s drama teacher, said it’s important to get children involved in the arts.
“I can say that through art we are sowing the seeds of a brighter future for Honduran children,” he said.
The program has three main levels:
The Comprehensive Care Pilot Program for children between the ages of 1 and 6 provides early learning services, nutritional services, health care, psychological services, school materials and meals. Each year the program takes in 150 children.
The Complementary Cultural Care Pilot Program for students between the ages of 7 and 14 teaches visual arts, music, theater and dance. In addition, the program provides psychosocial care, school meals and computer classes. It serves 350 children.
The Technical Training Pilot Program for students between the ages of 14 and 18 provides training in cosmetology, dressmaking, carpentry, electricity, mechanics, refrigeration and baking. It has an enrollment of up to 200.
The program has an annual budget of US$414,500, which is funded by the Ministry of Finance.
“Originally, the program was implemented to keep children off the street, but now we are taking the next step, which is training professional artists,” Duarte said.
Figures support Duarte’s claim.
Eighty percent of students between the ages of 7 to 14 are admitted into the National Academy of Music, the Díaz Zelaya Music Conservatory, the National Academy of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Dance and the National Academy of Theater, Duarte said, adding 60% of the participants excel academically at their regular schools.
Please note: Honduras is an incredible country to visit full of culture from various ethnic groups and historical ages. We hope you enjoyed this report on Culture Events and happenings in Honduras. Please see our complete Culture section for more about Honduras Culture and events.
The Honduras.com Team.
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