I have no doubt that music can change lives. I have been blessed to watch my incredible brothers, James and Mateo, experience the world through music and grow from two of the most impossible little boys into two of the best young men I know. And they did it through music. So when I first saw the boys from Fundación Herencia Andina (Andean Heritage Foundation) play, I fell in love with the organization. Herencia Andina is a true grassroots organization here in Cali and they are literally creating something out of nothing. The founder, Carlos Alirio Mamian organizes kids from the low income community of the East side of Cali called Agua Blanca (the part of Cali most people never see) and teaches them traditional music and dance (they are now adding a theater group as well).
The kids can seamlessly switch from guitar to pan-flute to drums, and kids who were once too shy to raise their hand in class are belting out beautiful traditional songs. But beyond the music and the talent, Carlos has created a safe space and a given the kids a way out. For many of the kids, the trips into beautiful colonial neighborhoods to play for tourists in hostels is the first time they have crossed into this part of town. Practicing their instruments becomes their alternative to wandering the streets of Agua Blanca. And not only does Carlos give to the kids, but he works really hard to engender them with a sense of social responsibility as well. The older kids are to mentor the younger. And the organization as a whole works year round to collect donations of children’s toys- not for themselves but to carry 8 hours on bus to San Miguel, the rural indigenous village where Carlos comes from. The annual pilgrimage to San Miguel (this year they are going in the first week of January) is a chance to see the countryside of Colombia, to deliver gifts into the hands of eager children, to see a way of life different from their own, and to connect these city kids with their roots and their role as socially responsible Colombians.
Carlos and Maria have created an entire world for the children of Agua Blanca. A world that includes friendships, mentorships, social responsibility, connection, and of course music. They dedicate their lives to these kids. A small amount of help goes a long way in Agua Blanca- toward instruments, transportation for performances, snacks for the kids…It’s not a giant non-profit, it’s not a big organization…this is true Colombian grassroots change that I am directly involved with. You can find them on facebook (Fundación Escuela Herencia Andina). Can you skip your latte today and send us the $5 instead? I know a whole bunch of kids who will be greatly appreciative. =) I set up an easy PayPal donation button. Just click below and enter the amount you want to donate. And THANK YOU for your support!!!