Children’s Choir and Orchestra of San Juan Cosala
By Coco Wonchee
With a look of intense concentration on their faces, nine girls are sitting on the covered patio next door to Viva Mexico in San Juan Cosala, learning to play the violin. They are part of the 100 member youth choir and orchestra known as the Orquesta Filármonica Infantil de la Ribera de Chapala (OFIRC), a charitable organization established a little over a year ago with the aim of providing the children with opportunities to improve their lives, their scholastic performance, to learn to work as a team and to open their hearts through music.
OFIRC was established under the umbrella of Musica Para Crecer A.C. With proper transparency, accountability and supervision, it has been able to attract funding not only from private sources but more importantly from the Jalisco Government in the shape of a significant ECOS grant. The significance of this government funding can be seen from the fact that although the children’s parents are expected to contribute 50 pesos a month towards the cost of running the program, less than one-third are in a position to do so.
OFIRC brings together the Musica Para Crecer AC Board, local families, the children, the government and the community as a whole. Besides developing the children’s musical talents, the most important aim of the program is to keep them away from the drugs, alcoholism, violence and lives without hope and joy that are due to the poverty, vulnerability and marginalization present in so many of our towns.
Fourteen young musicians, drawn from neighboring Ajijic and Chapala, are honing their skills as music teachers. Under their guidance, the children come daily to practice in small groups. As their skills develop, so too does their self-esteem and team spirit. They also learn a sense of responsibility: the members of the orchestra keep the valuable instruments so that they can practice with them at home.
Although the majority of the children currently come from San Juan Cosala, the hope is that with additional funding, an increasing number from Jocotepec and around the lake will be attracted to the program. By performing at a series of public concerts over the coming months, OFIRC is planning to raise funds to maintain and expand this important program. However, it is still in very real need of the continuing support, not only from the Jalisco state government, but also from individual sponsors throughout the Lakeside community.