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Afromusica: A Project to Prevent Recruitment of Youths by Illegal Groups

Published 01/28/2013 by Global Communities

Afromusica: A Project to Prevent Recruitment of Youths by Illegal Groups
Global Communities Colombia
USAID-funded Colombia Responde Montes de Maria (CR MdM), implemented by Global Communities, developed a project to prevent illegal groups from recruiting children and youths which promotes values and leadership through art and music. Six young musicians from Libertad, San Onofre; three from San Cristobal, San Jacinto; and three from El Salado, El Carmen de Bolivar, participated in this project.
This was the second phase of an initiative supported by USAID´s Access to Justice Program, which sought to decrease risk of recruitment of youths by illegal groups. The Artistic Foundation Familia Ayara implemented this project. Ayara is an organization with almost 20 years of experience that supports vulnerable youth through hip-hop as a strategy for prevention, reintegration and social transformation.
The Afromusica program resulted in a musical production with 12 songs written and produced by the youths. These songs are about peaceful coexistence, respect to women, sexual abuse, and achieving dreams in spite of violence and lack of opportunities.
Afromusica cost $24,886 — $11,300 of which came from the British NGO Fairtunes, $565 from the community organization Cocosalado, and $11,300 from CR MdM. The Semana Foundation provided logistical support to record the CD. All the organizations worked together to provide comprehensive assistance to the youths– not only artistic trainings, but also psychosocial care with a focus on leadership and democratic values. The participants also received help from sound engineers who have worked with well-known Colombian bands such as Aterciopelados, Chocquibtown and Sistema Solar.
Estebana Garcia, the Academic Coordinator for the Libertad High School, expressed that “if these young people would not have received this opportunity, they might have ended up distorting their lives. Through music, they give messages that lead them to improve their quality of lives. Young people in Montes de Maria have many negative influences and few opportunities. Through writing these songs, they become part of their communities and their lives start being example for others. They become leaders and good role models for children and teenagers.”
Reinaldo Urueta, 19, the Cocosalado Director, supports Estebana´s opinion by saying “Afromusica is an unforgettable experience because we were in El Salado with other young people, who are tired of violence and who want to achieve peace through music. What we are all looking for is to get ahead, because we are committed with rebuilding our region; we were able to show it through Afromusica. This was magic”.
Last October Afromusica had a performance in Rincon del Mar, San Onofre. Nowadays, these musicians continue composing and producing with the goal of achieving economic and life opportunities through art.
Leadership has been one of the most immediate and visible results of Afromusica. The youths from Libertad are currently in charge of the community medium called Ecos de Libertad, which allows them to manage, organize, lead and support every community event. For example, during Christmas, Afromusica´s members collected 400 gifts for children and organized a daily activity called “the Awakening” in which every child woke up at 4am to sing Christmas songs, while playing pots and lids. This had never been seen before in the community. The youths are bringing peace, happiness, music, art and hope to their communities.
Read more about Global Communities’ work in Colombia.