All Working Toward The Same End Goal

All Working Toward The Same End Goal

By Sam Fisher

From age 16 to now (20), God has given me multiple amazing opportunities to serve Him through different ministries, all working towards the same end goal: to glorify God and make Him known by meeting needs both physical and spiritual.

The first door God opened in my journey was when I was a sophomore in high school. I was able to join up with a group called GEMS (Guatemalan Evangelical Medical Servants) and go to Guatemala for the first time on a weeklong medical missions trip. During this trip God really took hold of my heart and gave me a passion for these people as we held medical clinics at the local churches in four different villages. Not only did we hold medical clinics to meet the physical need of each village, but we also played with and shared the gospel with the kids and parents outside waiting to go to the clinic through Vacation Bible School style activities. I got to work outside with the kids every day, and I absolutely loved it! It was on this first trip to Guatemala that God really opened my eyes not only to the needs of this people, but also to the incredible ways in which He is working in Guatemala. He has given me a passion for working with children in Guatemala.

All Working Toward The Same End Goal

After this first trip, I returned to Guatemala 3 more times with GEMS and met so many wonderful people also doing God’s work there in Guatemala. The second time that I went, the leaders of the group showed us the movie “Reparando“. This is a documentary of Guatemala, and more specifically the amazing ways in which God is working in La Limonada, the largest slum in Guatemala. When I first saw this movie, my heart was again touched, and I felt God calling me to do something. I wanted to make a difference and be able to help even when I was back in the States. So, I got a hold of Athentikos and asked how I could help. I was put in contact with Ericha Penzien, who helped me begin to plan a screening of “Reparando”. The goal was to raise awareness in my own hometown of the needs and the hope in Guatemala.

With some help, I was able to hold a screening of “Reparando” at my college and raise over $800 for Athentikos.

My adventures did not stop there, though. At the end of May 2012, I went to Argentina for a 6-month study abroad program through my college. I decided to go because I wanted to be fluent in Spanish. This would help me work in Guatemala with the people and children I feel God has called me to work with. I think it is so important to be able to communicate with these people in their own language and to understand their culture. So, I went to Argentina for 6 months to learn Spanish better and experience their culture. While I was there, I lived with a host family and attended church with them. I got to help out with their youth group a few times and began regularly helping in their children’s ministry on Sunday mornings. God taught me a lot while I was there. Not only did I learn to speak Spanish fluently, but I also connected with so many new people that became family to me. The main thing was that God showed me that He is and will always be enough for me.

All Working Toward The Same End Goal

After going to Argentina, I spent a week in Guatemala with a friend named Julia Arreaga. She is a missionary to her own people in Guatemala and works with many different organizations helping at-risk youth. While I was in Guatemala, I got to see what she does and volunteer at an AMG school for a couple days. AMG schools are schools positioned in red zone areas of Guatemala that provide education, meals, and share Christ with the at-risk youth that live in these areas.

Then, when I had returned home, Ericha contacted me and asked me to be involved in the Red Bus Project. This is a project that Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife started to raise money to provide adoption grants and fund special care centers. I met Ericha and the RBP team, and more than a year later, as the Red Bus Project traveled to a college in my home state. I drove 2 hours to volunteer at the Red Bus Project’s double-decker-bus-turned-thrift-store for this awesome cause.

Looking back, it is amazing to see how God took a movie, “Reparando”, to give me such a passion and inspiration for helping others. God is so good!

Recently, I went to Guatemala a few weeks ago with GEMS again. This time, they asked me to lead the children’s ministry at each village. I decided to share the gospel with the kids through soccer. My friend Julia connected me to a group called Champions in Action when she heard what I wanted to do. This is a ministry that shares the gospel and mentors kids through soccer camps in the red zones of Guatemala. They were happy to come up with us to our first clinic and teach the kids some soccer. They also helped love on the kids, play with them, and do different crafts. It was a true gift to be able to work with them and combine our efforts and goals.

All Working Toward The Same End Goal

Now, as this summer begins, I have been accepted as an intern at an orphanage for girls in Guatemala. It is called Principe de Paz (or Prince of Peace). This girls’ home has over 50 girls living there that come from all sorts of backgrounds. Many of them have been taken out of the court system and given a home here. I will have the opportunity to work with both the girls at this home and the missions groups that come to the home to help out. I am really excited to see how God will use me during the month of July at Prince of Peace.

God has definitely used me in many different ways, volunteering with many different organizations throughout the last few years. It amazes me still to see how many connections God has given me and continues to give me both in the States and in other countries. The passion that God has given me is to minister to the children that come from these red zones of Guatemala. I want to be a source of light and encouragement for these kids, and I want to be Christ to them. Honestly, I cannot say where I will be in five years or how God will use me. I only pray that He continues to receive glory through me and that hope continues to rise in the hardest places in Guatemala.

I Love Guatemala – Kali Pliego

By Kali Pliego

About 10 years ago, during my third trip to Guatemala, and halfway though a semester abroad, I naively professed my love for all things Guatemala to a man who told me, “If you’re telling me that you love Guatemalans, then I’m telling you—you must not know many Guatemalans.”  He was a North American missionary for a world-renowned mission organization in Guatemala City.

That interaction did two things for me.

  1. It broke my heart.  How dare he trash talk Guatemalans—his supposed ‘mission field’! How dare he judge my capacity to love Guatemalan people and culture? Up to that point, I had accumulated relationships with many Guatemalans.  I served in a school, so I knew the staff, students, and a handful of parents.  During previous trips to Guatemala, I had been to Guatemala City jails, orphanages, out to the streets, and on visits to hospice patients who were dying of AIDS to share my testimony, prayer, a comforting embrace, or a simple smile with many who were in the midst of experiencing struggles I would never fully understand.
  2. The missionary’s comments helped me to realize that I didn’t choose to love Guatemala or Guatemalans, but that the love I had in God had placed my heart, for a purpose.  It was a defining moment, through which I realized that God was calling me to do ministry in Guatemala.

I was obedient to the call, and in 2006 founded an organization in Santiago Sacatepequez, Guatemala called Se Luz Ministries (Ministerio Cristiano Se Luz, www.se-luz.org).  Se Luz works with young local Guatemalans (10-30 years old), empowering them, through weekly discipleship and monthly community service projects, to bring about positive changes in their own community.  Although I lived in Guatemala while laying the groundwork for Se Luz, I always believed that the power of our ministry lied not in the fact that it would be funded with US Dollars, but because the ones doing the actual work of ministry were Guatemalans themselves.  I was merely a tool used by God to implement an infrastructure for ministry so that our Director, Romeo Sactic (the one who is really called) would have the means to live out his vision for the eradication of gangs and the experience of Shalom in Santiago.

I Love Guatemala - Kali Pliego

Se Luz’ ministry strategy is that we meet the same basic needs as a gang would (a sense of belonging, safety, empowerment, and value validation), and then we add something the gangs can’t touch—we give our youth the opportunity to make a meaningful, positive contribution to their community.

Gangs take away; youth in Se Luz give freely.

Through service projects Se Luz youth have the chance to serve and give a hand up to their literal and spiritual neighbors.  They build, paint, fix, clean, lay concrete, distribute food; they spread the gospel in word and in deed.  Our youth freely give away their time, their labor, their talent, their effort, and I think most importantly, they freely give joy to those whom they serve.

Thankfully, just as our reputation in Guatemala has been established, the same has occurred in the States.  Each year since Se Luz Ministries, Inc. became a 501(c)3 non-profit public charity in the US (2009), our annual revenue has increased. Marvin is a Se Luz youth who started out as a project beneficiary last November.  His family suffered a tragic loss of Marvin’s father, Elias, when he fell into their well and died of noxious gas poisoning.  This story is especially sad because Elias was a hard-working father who did not drink alcohol and was raising his children to have strong Christian convictions.  All of this makes Elias and exception to the rule for many families in Santiago, whose husbands and fathers are lost in alcoholism and bring abusive patterns in the home.  At the time when Elias died, he was building a cinder-block home for the family to move into from their wooden shack—but he had only finished half the walls.

I Love Guatemala - Kali Pliego

With the help of Se Luz, Marvin’s family was able to finish building their house.  Since the completion of that project, Marvin has become integrated into our youth group.  He has paid it forward to many other families needing help.  He has also experienced a spiritual change in his life, after seeing so many youth come to his home to help them despite their own personal struggles.  Because of this testimony, Marvin decided to re-commit to the faith in Christ his father taught and modeled for him.  Marvin is just one youth in a group of more than 60 who participate in Se Luz programs.  Each of them has a unique story of transformation.

I Love Guatemala - Kali Pliego

Seems to me that #HopeIsRising.

This July 4th, I will be running a half-marathon in Minneapolis to raise money to support Se Luz.  My goal is to raise $200 per mile in the 13.1-mile race.  Assuming I reach the goal, the money raised will fund one service project in late 2013.  If you’d like to support Se Luz with a donation, you can do so at this website: www.givemn.razoo.com/story/Red-White-And-Boom-1-2-Marathon-For-Se-Luz.

Thank you, Athentikos, for allowing me this space to share about Se Luz!  I pray that our personal and ministry relationships continue to grow into the future!  I look forward to working with you to bring Becoming Fools to Minnesota on your screening tour!!

A Child’s Barrier to Education

“Homelessness is not a sufficient reason to separate students from the mainstream school environment”…argues legislation introduced last month.

On April 25, 2013, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced “The Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act of 2013”.  This legislation aims to strengthen parts of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act originally passed and signed into law in 1987.  The McKinney-Vento Act aimed to protect the right to education of homeless youth.  This act defines homeless children and youth as “any individual who lacks fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”  This includes children “hotelin” with their families as well as:

  • Children sharing housing due to economic hardship or loss of housing;
  • Children living in “motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations”
  • Children living in “emergency or transitional shelters”
  • Children “awaiting foster care placement”
  • Children whose primary nighttime residence is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation (e.g. park benches, etc.)
  • Children living in “cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations…”

A Child's Barrier to Education

Children across the country slip out of the education system everyday.  To address this problem, it is important to empower education systems to identify and enable the youth that fall into these categories and slip out of school.  The Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act of 2013 proposes to increase the federal protection of and expand services for these children.

As our previous blog Hotelin at Disney: A New Way of Living explains, some families living in hotels are renting out one of their beds to make a little extra cash.  Under recent legislation families living in “doubled-up” arrangements in houses, apartments and hotels would be included under the definition of homeless.  A Huffington Post article cited in the last blog entry states, “As of now, the only homeless people eligible for help from the Department of Housing and Urban Development are those who live in shelters or on the streets, with narrow exceptions. The law would add around 700,000 kids to the thousands who already meet the department’s definition of homelessness.”

A Child's Barrier to Education

A Child's Barrier to Education

“Homelessness is not a sufficient reason to separate students from the mainstream school environment”…argues legislation introduced last month.

On April 25, 2013, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced “The Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act of 2013”.  This legislation aims to strengthen parts of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act originally passed and signed into law in 1987.  The McKinney-Vento Act aimed to protect the right to education of homeless youth.  This act defines homeless children and youth as “any individual who lacks fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”  This includes children “hotelin” with their families as well as:

  • Children sharing housing due to economic hardship or loss of housing;
  • Children living in “motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations”
  • Children living in “emergency or transitional shelters”
  • Children “awaiting foster care placement”
  • Children whose primary nighttime residence is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation (e.g. park benches, etc.)
  • Children living in “cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations…”

A Child's Barrier to Education

Children across the country slip out of the education system everyday.  To address this problem, it is important to empower education systems to identify and enable the youth that fall into these categories and slip out of school.  The Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act of 2013 proposes to increase the federal protection of and expand services for these children.

As our previous blog Hotelin at Disney: A New Way of Living explains, some families living in hotels are renting out one of their beds to make a little extra cash.  Under recent legislation families living in “doubled-up” arrangements in houses, apartments and hotels would be included under the definition of homeless.  A Huffington Post article cited in the last blog entry states, “As of now, the only homeless people eligible for help from the Department of Housing and Urban Development are those who live in shelters or on the streets, with narrow exceptions. The law would add around 700,000 kids to the thousands who already meet the department’s definition of homelessness.”

A Child's Barrier to Education

Hotelin at Disney: A New Way of Living

Uprooting your life after one storm is bad luck.  Displacement from a second natural disaster is unimaginable, but unfortunately this is the reality for many families.  Even families with savings accounts and plans for emergency situations can find themselves unprotected from the devastating effects of bad weather, and in certain circumstances, homeless.

A recent article from the Huffington Post describes one family’s unfortunate journey to homelessness caused by natural disasters:  “This family had started out in New Orleans, lost its home in Katrina, moved to Nashville and lost that home in the floods. At that point the parents figured they might as well leave the next choice of destination to their 7-year-old daughter. And so they’d arrived on the steps of Disney, where they [are] now renting one of the two beds in their room to a Vietnam vet for a few extra dollars.”

Photo provided by The Associated Press

This article focuses on the growing issue of homeless families living in hotels around the Disney World Resorts in Central Florida.  “According to the U.S. Department of Education, at least 2,000 children live in the hotels of Central Florida…”

Central Florida attracts families in times of economic hardship because to some it is “the land of perfect weather and plentiful paychecks”.  But shortly after arriving, these families find themselves in a very different world than what they expected.

Without finding a secure job, “[these] families run up a big bill and move to another hotel down the road. They called it “hotelin’.”

The Huffington Post article states, “For homeless families the lack of stability is arguably the biggest obstacle on the path to a better life.”  The lack of stability is also a long-lasting and devastating effect on the children in these families.  The article sites several supporting studies that highlight the effects on the development of a child and the risk factors of an unstable environment.  A study conducted by the University of Chicago found that homeless children may move 3-4 times per year, and each move sets the child back about 6 months in their schooling.

Another study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that “children who live in poverty often have higher-than-normal levels of stress hormones, which can actually warp the architecture of the brain in ways that make these children more vulnerable to anxiety and depression and more prone to poor decision-making, and thus more likely to remain poor and to raise kids who will themselves remain poor.”  This instability creates more instability argues the article “Bringing up a child in the chaotic conditions of poverty must be something like building a skyscraper on quicksand. Instability begets instability begets instability.”

Real Social Innovation … Straight from TED Talks

Real Social Innovation ... Straight from TED Talks

In 2008, Athentikos was founded through a calling of authentic response to tell inspiring stories of hope through the art of story.  Over the years, we have sought to do so in a way that is self-sustaining.  But now, as we begin the process of marketing our second documentary, Becoming Fools, we are unfortunately little more self-sustaining than we were 5 years ago.  Why?  What role do we play in social innovation that brings positive change to the world around us while at the same time allows us to continue working in the way we feel called?  We have asked ourselves these questions so many times.  We have brainstormed for endless hours to develop new campaigns that will allow us to continue telling stories of hope.  And each time, we walk away with the same 3 solutions:  One, we need more money.  Two, we need more people.  And three, we need more time.  Other non-profit organizations we have met through our many endeavors face the same limiting and complicated roadblocks.  At times, it seems that in order to be a non-profit, your organization must face limited human and financial resources as well as time restraints.

BUT we haven’t lost hope.  And how could we?  Over the past 7 months throughout the editing process as I watched Becoming Fools, I was repeatedly reminded of the street kids’ hope in themselves, in the future, in the hope of something better, in the hope of change despite the odds stacked against them.  Then a few days ago, our good friend Joel Van Dyke sent us a video from TED Talks.  (I watched it immediately, as I fell in love with TED Talks after attending a TEDx Conference in Guatemala last year.)  This particular video Joel sent us was about social innovation, real social innovation.  The speaker, Dan Pallotta is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, author and social innovator himself.  His presentation challenged the audience on the role of the non-profit sector in the business world.

Pallotta began by posing the question:  Does the non-profit sector have a serious role to play in changing the world?  And if so, then why have non-profit organizations failed to make a large difference in the world?  Pallotta suggests that there is a double standard that prevents the non-profit sector from assuming a position powerful enough to reach large-scale social change.  He gives several staggering statistics to support his point:

  • In the US, giving to charities has remained at 2% of the GDP since the 1970s.
  • From 1970 to 2009, only 144 non-profit organizations crossed the $50 million annual revenue barriers while 46, 136 for-profit organizations crossed the same barrier.
  • Poverty has remained stuck at 12% of the US population for the past 40 years.

Pallotta suggests that there is one rulebook for the non-profit sector, and a contrasting one for the rest of the world. He supports this point by addressing 5 specific areas in which there is a discrepancy between what is expected or allowed from the non-profit sector in contrast with what is expected or allowed from the rest of the world.  The major limitations placed on non-profits fall into the categories of compensation, advertising/marketing, risk taking, time and profit.  In addition to these limitations forced upon the non-profit sector, Pallotta warns against our nation’s obsession with keeping the overhead of charities and non-profit organizations low.  He explains the limitation of this obsession by sharing the history of a largely successful for-profit business, Amazon.

Amazon went their first 6 years in business without returning any profit to investors.  The investors waited patiently because there was a long-term goal they knew they could reach.  But what would happen to a non-profit organization if they went 6 years building their infrastructure before giving any money to the poor?  Pallotta’s answers: crucifixion.

Pallotta ends his presentation by stating:  “Our generation does not want its epitaph to read, we kept charity overhead low.”  With laugher and applause the crowd shows their agreement with this statement.  Obsession with overhead prevents a for-profit business from growing their team and their reach, which in turn grows their profit and benefit to society.  The exact same is true for a non-profit organization. The focus shouldn’t be on an organization’s overhead, Pallotta argues, but rather charitable and generous giving to mark this generation’s contribution to social innovation and change.  But what will it take to transform our nation’s minds from demanding a different business plan for non-profit organization than that allowed to for-profit businesses?

This video from TED Talks gave me new insight into the world of non-profit organizations.  It gave me inspiration and hope for Athentikos, for our future, for something better, for social innovation, for change.  I believe our mission is simple: to tell inspiring stories of hope through the art of story.  And our goal is clear: to inspire people to authentically respond in order that change may occur in the lives of those they help as well as in their own life.  The only thing left to figure out then is: how do we become a successful, self-sustaining organization that can continue to live out our mission and pursue our goal?

Watch Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong.

Click below to give a tax-deductible donation to Athentikos.

Give a tax-deductible donation.

Love Lived Out On Film: Becoming Fools Review

Love Lived Out On Film: Becoming Fools Review

Our supporters have kept us going through the ups and downs of production of Reparando and Becoming Fools.  It encourages us to hear the stories and see the ways God is using our films to inspire authentic response in the United States, Guatemala and around the world.  One of our faithful supporters is Kali Pliego.  She has deep ties to Guatemala as she started her own non-profit organization, Se Luz, in Santiago Sacatepequez, Guatemala.  She discovered Athentikos after the release of Reparando, and most recently was able to be a part of the first screening of Becoming Fools at the Omaha Film Festival in March.  From Minneapolis to Omaha, she drove 6 hours through the snow to be with us to premiere Becoming Fools.  Here is her reflection of the experience and Becoming Fools Review.

Becoming Fools Review from Kali Pliego

I was introduced to Athentikos when a friend posted something about their first documentary Reparando on facebook.  I, of course, am interested in anything related to Guatemala that I can get my hands on, so it did not take me long to get my own copy of Reparando.  Then naturally, when I heard about the new film, Becoming Fools, I was an early adopter.  I donated what I could afford during the pre-production Kickstarter campaign, and recruited others to do the same.

Sidenote: One of the perks given to me for my donation was a mention in the end credits of the finished documentary.  I didn’t think that mattered much to me until I actually saw my name up on the screen after having watched the film and just burning with pride to know that I supported the telling of this important story.

One day, I saw some photos posted to Facebook on the Athentikos page that made me take a second look.  I recognized one of the street youth in the pictures.  On several occasions between 2000 and 2005 I visited kids like these in Guatemala City with a friend who did ministry in the streets.  The day I saw the photos online, I dug out my old pictures to see if that was indeed the same guy.  After careful comparison, I am convinced that the young man in my pictures is the same one who showed up on facebook.  You could say I was already ‘all in’ on supporting Becoming Fools, but that day the film became personal.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit I am thoroughly biased and therefore probably not a very good film critic.  I have nothing negative to say about Becoming Fools.  I thought the storyline was laid out very well, weaving individual histories into the countdown of days until the show.  There was a palpable tension regarding both aspects of the documentary—would the street youth be able to pull this production off?  And, in the end, would everyone turn out okay?  Would these kids have their ‘happy ending’?

I have two favorite parts in Becoming Fools.  First is seeing the youth, who were preparing a clown performance to honor their mentor, in various shots just sitting in the seats of the Teatro Abril and letting the significance of the show sink in.  The Teatro Abril is Guatemala’s finest stage, normally reserved for high class, cultured performances.  And here we have a group of street youth, that is homeless, invisible, rejected, hurting kids pulling together to pay tribute to their beloved mentor, Italo, on that very stage.  I love the paradox of that.  Somehow the distance, some would call it disparity, between the street youth clown performers and their privileged audience adds to the significance of the event.  Second, I loved seeing the professional clowns and the director work with such dedication to and compassion for the street youth.

It was love lived out on film.

“Becoming Fools” is not just a cute title for this documentary.  I believe it is a mandate of scripture for all believers.  To the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).  He goes on to teach that it will be the fools who shame the wise in God’s kingdom and the weak who will shame the strong (v. 27).  We get a glimpse of this Truth in the documentary.   We see the power that ‘becoming fools’ has in the lives of each youth involved to bring them back to the childhood they had lost, and innocence that was forgotten long ago.  We see the youth reclaim dreams—of a reunited family, of getting off the streets and off of drugs.  Within the act of becoming fools, we’ve stumbled upon a key to unlock the chains that bind us.  What a beautiful message of hope!

Athentikos needs your help to bring Becoming Fools to your city for a screening.  I am committed, and have already sought out potential partnerships with homeless youth advocates in my city, Minneapolis, who may be willing to host a screening.  You see, while the setting of this documentary is in Guatemala, which may seem a million miles away, the theme of homeless youth hits very close to home, no matter what city that is.  I will do everything I can to spread the word about Becoming Fools and to spread awareness of this issue.  Will you join me?

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner At Art Camp

This year I wanted at Art Camp to create a memorable art masterpiece as a group that would be a reminder throughout the year of the fun we had, the friends we made and the lessons we learned.  Through much planning and experimenting, I came up with the idea to create a tie-dye banner to hang in the schools in La Limonada in Guatemala City.  Throughout the process, I knew what I wanted the finished product to look like, but having never done anything like this, I was unsure of exactly how it would turn out.  The final result was more than I could have EVER imagined and I am so happy the kids can look at their beautiful group art work everyday in the schools!

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

First step to making the banners was getting the material ready.  I bought 5 yards of plain white muslin.  Muslin is REALLY awesome because you can tear on the bias.  Tearing the fabric makes creating 100+ strips of fabric so much easier.  After I had tons of strips of muslin.  I cut each strip in thirds, giving me ~135 pieces of 3 inch x 30 inch strips.  I wasn’t exactly sure how we were going to mount the banner, but I knew the easiest way would be to hang the material on something.  Therefore, I sewed 1 inch pockets on top and on the bottom of each strip.  After several hours of sewing, I was off to JoAnn’s to buy fabric dye.  I purchased several different brands to get the colors I wanted (JoAnn’s was a little low on their stock of fabric dye).  And that was all the work I did before going to Guatemala.  Because of limited room in my luggage and our budget, I didn’t purchase containers to mix the dye or to use to apply to dye for the fabric.  I also waited until arriving in Guatemala to purchase rubber bands and salt.  We waited until we were at Art Camp to start collecting plastic water bottles for the dye.

A couple of hours before we were going to tie-dye, we starting mixing the dye.  We gathered about 50 plastic bottles (some water, some Coke, some juices, etc) and started filling each bottle with hot water from the bathroom sink!  We added 1/2 of the package of the dye and one bottle cap full of salt (to fix the dye to the material) to the bottle fill with water….and then shake, shake, shake and shake.  The dye we used called for boiling 140° water, but we just used really hot bathroom sink water and hoped that with shaking really hard we would get the same result.  After we had mixed all the dye, we separated each bottle into 2 bottles, half the mixture in one and half in the other, and then filled the bottle up again with hot water and shook some more.  We repeated this separation and refill step again with some of the really dark colors or colors we wanted more of.  Most of the dyes we were using say you can dilute the dye mix with 3-4 gallons of water, but we wanted really vibrant colors so we didn’t use that much water.  We then poked a tiny whole in the top with a push pin.

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

We gave each kid (and most of the adults) a white strip of materials and some rubber bands.  And this is where all the fun starts.  Tie-dye is created by using the material and dye to create patterns, and there are endless numbers of different ways to do it.  We explained to the kids that every one could come up with their own technique for folding the material.  You can roll, fold, wrinkle, twirl, swirl or squish the fabric as you wish and then bind with rubber bands to hold that pattern while you apply the dye.  We then went into the grass (for easy clean-up and limited mess on the floor from the dye).  Everyone chose 2 colors and sprayed their fabric as they wished.  We had everyone only choose 2 colors so that we could create a “rainbow” or gradient look with the strips of fabric at the end.  It is much easier to organizes strips in color order with 2 colors than with 3, 4, 5 or lots of colors.

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Then we waited.  We let the fabric sit rolled, folded or swirled on a table overnight.  And then let each kid open a strip the next day.  We didn’t bother with names or who’s was who’s.  We encouraged the kids to see this project as a group project and TOGETHER we were creating something beautiful.  It wasn’t important who had the most beautiful strip or who’s was the most creative because each piece was equally as important in creating the final product.  I used this time to explain to the kids that the project is much like their life.  They are all different but together than can be the beautiful future of their community and their country.  The kids at camp are from different rival areas in La Limonada, and while in La Limonada are not allowed to cross area boundaries because of gang violence.  However, at camp they are free and develop close relationships with one another.  It is these relationships that can change the future of their community, La Limonada.

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

After Art Camp, we assembled all the strips into banners for the schools.  We hung that at the Art Show and then hung them in the schools before we had to leave.  The banners are absolutely beautiful on the walls, and I hope they do remind the kids of Art Camp whenever they look at them!  ValorArte 2012 was an unforgettable experience.  I am so happy to have been a part of it again, and I hope and pray everyday that next year we are able to give the amazing experience of Art Camp to the kids of La Limonada again.  Fundraising has started, and we have a long way to go.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child to go to Art Camp or would like more information, please contact me at ericha@athentikos.com.

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Photography by: Sara Harper and Amelia Moore

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner At Art Camp

This year I wanted at Art Camp to create a memorable art masterpiece as a group that would be a reminder throughout the year of the fun we had, the friends we made and the lessons we learned.  Through much planning and experimenting, I came up with the idea to create a tie-dye banner to hang in the schools in La Limonada in Guatemala City.  Throughout the process, I knew what I wanted the finished product to look like, but having never done anything like this, I was unsure of exactly how it would turn out.  The final result was more than I could have EVER imagined and I am so happy the kids can look at their beautiful group art work everyday in the schools!

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

First step to making the banners was getting the material ready.  I bought 5 yards of plain white muslin.  Muslin is REALLY awesome because you can tear on the bias.  Tearing the fabric makes creating 100+ strips of fabric so much easier.  After I had tons of strips of muslin.  I cut each strip in thirds, giving me ~135 pieces of 3 inch x 30 inch strips.  I wasn’t exactly sure how we were going to mount the banner, but I knew the easiest way would be to hang the material on something.  Therefore, I sewed 1 inch pockets on top and on the bottom of each strip.  After several hours of sewing, I was off to JoAnn’s to buy fabric dye.  I purchased several different brands to get the colors I wanted (JoAnn’s was a little low on their stock of fabric dye).  And that was all the work I did before going to Guatemala.  Because of limited room in my luggage and our budget, I didn’t purchase containers to mix the dye or to use to apply to dye for the fabric.  I also waited until arriving in Guatemala to purchase rubber bands and salt.  We waited until we were at Art Camp to start collecting plastic water bottles for the dye.

A couple of hours before we were going to tie-dye, we starting mixing the dye.  We gathered about 50 plastic bottles (some water, some Coke, some juices, etc) and started filling each bottle with hot water from the bathroom sink!  We added 1/2 of the package of the dye and one bottle cap full of salt (to fix the dye to the material) to the bottle fill with water….and then shake, shake, shake and shake.  The dye we used called for boiling 140° water, but we just used really hot bathroom sink water and hoped that with shaking really hard we would get the same result.  After we had mixed all the dye, we separated each bottle into 2 bottles, half the mixture in one and half in the other, and then filled the bottle up again with hot water and shook some more.  We repeated this separation and refill step again with some of the really dark colors or colors we wanted more of.  Most of the dyes we were using say you can dilute the dye mix with 3-4 gallons of water, but we wanted really vibrant colors so we didn’t use that much water.  We then poked a tiny whole in the top with a push pin.

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

We gave each kid (and most of the adults) a white strip of materials and some rubber bands.  And this is where all the fun starts.  Tie-dye is created by using the material and dye to create patterns, and there are endless numbers of different ways to do it.  We explained to the kids that every one could come up with their own technique for folding the material.  You can roll, fold, wrinkle, twirl, swirl or squish the fabric as you wish and then bind with rubber bands to hold that pattern while you apply the dye.  We then went into the grass (for easy clean-up and limited mess on the floor from the dye).  Everyone chose 2 colors and sprayed their fabric as they wished.  We had everyone only choose 2 colors so that we could create a “rainbow” or gradient look with the strips of fabric at the end.  It is much easier to organizes strips in color order with 2 colors than with 3, 4, 5 or lots of colors.

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Then we waited.  We let the fabric sit rolled, folded or swirled on a table overnight.  And then let each kid open a strip the next day.  We didn’t bother with names or who’s was who’s.  We encouraged the kids to see this project as a group project and TOGETHER we were creating something beautiful.  It wasn’t important who had the most beautiful strip or who’s was the most creative because each piece was equally as important in creating the final product.  I used this time to explain to the kids that the project is much like their life.  They are all different but together than can be the beautiful future of their community and their country.  The kids at camp are from different rival areas in La Limonada, and while in La Limonada are not allowed to cross area boundaries because of gang violence.  However, at camp they are free and develop close relationships with one another.  It is these relationships that can change the future of their community, La Limonada.

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

After Art Camp, we assembled all the strips into banners for the schools.  We hung that at the Art Show and then hung them in the schools before we had to leave.  The banners are absolutely beautiful on the walls, and I hope they do remind the kids of Art Camp whenever they look at them!  ValorArte 2012 was an unforgettable experience.  I am so happy to have been a part of it again, and I hope and pray everyday that next year we are able to give the amazing experience of Art Camp to the kids of La Limonada again.  Fundraising has started, and we have a long way to go.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child to go to Art Camp or would like more information, please contact me at ericha@athentikos.com.

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Tie-Dye Banner at Art Camp 2012

Photography by: Sara Harper and Amelia Moore

Music Class at Art Camp 2012

Music Class at Art Camp 2012
Hello All! My name is Tina.  I had the pleasure of teaching the Music class at Art Camp this year. The main focus of the ValorArte 2012 was discovering how we are treasures of God.  In our Music class, we created drums.  The drums made beautiful rhythms, while also teaching the kids important lessons on their personal value in this world and to God.
Our class was focused on rhythm. We took empty Pringles cans (ok, we ate the Pringles!) and turned them into drums to use to make music. The drums were a representation of ourself. The first day of class, we painted the drums black. This represented the darkness that surrounds us and also the darkness and sin we carry within us. The next day, we painted the drums all white. This was to represent God covering us and making us new, a blank canvas ready to be made into a masterpiece. Then the final day, we painted our drums in beautiful colors, glitter and jewels. This was to represent the unique beauty God has created in each of us.
Music Class at Art Camp 2012
Music Class at Art Camp 2012
Music Class at Art Camp 2012
Each day, we also had a theme to the class: How our identity is shaped by everything around us. We focused on family, friends, community, environment and self. Each day in our class, I placed a pile of cotton balls and a pile of beads in the middle of our circle. The cotton represented the negative that is given to us in our lives, or “put inside our drum”.  The beads represented the positive that is given to us. The beads make a good sound in the drums and the cotton blocks it. Each child chose 5 pieces every day, a combination of cotton and beads, while thinking about the subject of the day.  These 5 pieces would symbolize their family, friends, community, etc. and the positive or negative that each bring to their lives.  For example, when we talked about family, the children thought about their family and decided whether they got mostly positive or negative from them.  They then chose cotton, beads or a combination to represent what their family “puts into their drum”.  Each day we would take the cotton out of the drum together, leaving the beads. We threw the cotton out; throwing away the bad and keeping the good. This was to show the importance of keeping the good in our lives so our drums make a good sound, but throwing out the bad so the sound is not blocked.
Music Class at Art Camp 2012

We had a wonderful week together. Some days were very challenging, but by the end of the week I could see a change in the kids. These are kids that I worked with for the entire year, but at Art Camp there was something softer about them. To hear the things that they had to say, to see the ease with which they expressed themselves, both verbally and musically, was something new and hope-filled. Healing took place and will hopefully continue!

Written by: Tina Breshears
Photography by: Sara Harper