My name is Cesar Eguizabal, from Guatemala, this past fall I had the privilege to serve and support the I AM ART camp at Oasis, a home that provides holistic care and counseling to girls who have been abused in different ways. All of the girls come from hard backgrounds and hard circumstances back at their homes.
I have known Athentikos and their work for 10 years, and I had the opportunity to be a part of their production team in 2009 for the documentary Reparando. I absolutely love the heart, passion and vision of the organization from the first time I worked with them. I believe art and creativity are a part of how God created us and Athentikos moves us to discover those talents and gifts in ourselves in various ways.
For many years, I have been connected one way or another with Athentikos and I have been able to help and support in bits and pieces, but this year was different for me. I also work in ministry with another organization that serves children homes, community programs and churches in Guatemala. I love serving and working with children when I can. So this year I challenged myself and instead of taking a trip somewhere or staying at home resting and relaxing, I signed up to volunteer for one of the I AM ART fall art camps in 2017 and let me tell you that has been the best “vacation time” I’ve had in a while.
Now let me be honest with you, I am an introvert and I don’t consider myself very creative; I love music and have played the guitar since I was 10 years old but that’s it. I am intimidated by artists that can create beautiful paintings and murals and play with colors and no matter what they do it’s going to be an amazing masterpiece. But I told Amelia and Kathlyn I just wanted to help. I have management skills and I have experience leading mission teams, but I was still not quite sure how could I help or what could I do, so I volunteered to be an interpreter for one of the afternoon workshops and help oversee the workshops and make sure things were running smooth. A few days after I agreed to come to camp Amelia sent me an email and asked me if I was willing to lead a workshop, again I didn’t think I would be good at that, so I told her that I would rather not lead a workshop; I felt that was too much for me.
The first day of camp, I was excited because I finally had the opportunity to serve the whole week and be at the camp all week and not only one or two days like previous years. I had a very busy week at work prior the IAA camp but I was excited to take a break from work and to serve in another context and with another team of friends and really a big family.
As the camp started, I found out that Tamagochy, the leader of the Miming workshop, wasn’t going to make it to camp until Tuesday morning. So I was asked, along with one of the volunteers, Brandon, to take over that workshop Monday morning. We came up with some games and introduction activities to get to know each other a little bit among the group of girls that were in the workshop. That morning we all went outside to the playground and started our activities; we had fun and the girls were excited to start with Tamagochy the next morning. On Tuesday morning, Tamagochy took over the class and I continued to assist him on Tuesday and Wednesday.
To my surprise, Tamagochy asked me on Wednesday night if I could take over, continue working with the group on Friday, and lead the presentation on Saturday at the Art Show. Somehow, without thinking about it, I told him, “sure I can do it, don’t worry; just tell me what you need and I’ll help out.” After a couple of hours though, I got stressed out and nervous. I knew I didn’t know how to lead the workshop but I decided to pray and let God help me.
Tamagochy told the girls on Thursday that he wasn’t going to be at camp on Friday and Saturday. The girls got discouraged and very sad because they wanted him there and they wanted to continue working, practicing, and rehearsing with him. In that moment, I felt the pressure. But on Thursday I also had the opportunity to walk around all the workshops and check out some of their projects, I loved seeing the creativity of the girls, their perspectives, the colors and shapes they were using. I even worked on one of the workshops with Amelia and it was fun to do something and get a little messy with the colors. It was relaxing and I was able to enjoy spending time with the kids.
Finally, Friday and Saturday came and I started working with the girls. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing but because I connected with the girls throughout the week we had a blast. They wanted to rehearse for Saturday, but they also wanted to play, talk, and open up and I realized that they girls felt comfortable and safe.
We all sat in a circle and talked about life and some of their struggles then finished our workshop praying and letting God come to our lives to changes us and give us joy. Saturday was so beautiful. It was amazing to perform with the group and I felt proud of them because they worked hard and they felt so proud of themselves.
During the IAA camp, I was able to witness a program for children that truly make a change in the lives of the children forever. Athentikos does an incredible job through I AM ART because I believe that they do what most programs or organization don’t.
Athentikos focuses on healing, processing and restoration of the heart; the value of this process through art is beyond measure. I believe that the girls are changed after one week of Art Camp, I know I was restored and changed after that week. At IAA camp God works not only in the kids’ lives but also in the volunteers’ lives.