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My volunteer experience with SDM

Updated: Jul 27, 2018

Written by Carmen Holman

Two months ago, my friend Chrissy asked me to help take videos and photos for Sonido Del Movimiento, her non-profit organisation here in Xela, Guatemala. Although I’ve known Chrissy for about a year, I didn’t know much about the non-profit she runs. I knew it had something to do with music and dance, but it wasn’t until I started working with them that I realized it is so much more than that.

On my first day, we headed out to Caras Alegres, an afterschool center in Xela where SDM runs their classes. A small group of children are afforded the opportunity to dance, sing and try out new instruments there. As soon as we got out of the taxi, the kids ran up to us, jumping up and down and yelling, “Seño, seño! Vamos bailar hoy?” (Miss, miss - are we going to dance today?). It was clear that Chrissy had formed a special relationship with them over the last few years. They were so excited to see her! Luckily, we were accompanied by Jony, a local dance teacher who would be teaching them one of the most popular dance styles in Latin America - salsa!

After finally getting the kids to settle, Chrissy sat them down and talked with them about respect. She covered what it is and how they can show respect to others. It was then that I realized that Sonido de Movimiento isn’t just music and dance. Every SDM class incorporates lessons about respect, resiliency, or self-esteem. Many of these kids experience hardships; broken families, dangerous neighbourhoods and poverty are common challenges. Teaching them how to be resilient when faced with adversity is an important part of the organization’s mission.

Most of the kids were really engaged when the salsa class started, learning the steps and admiring the teacher. Not all of them were engaged, however; a few would leave the class abruptly, ducking outside to talk to Chrissy. I noticed this and asked Chrissy about it a bit later; she explained the kids confide in her about their day or talk about why they don’t feel like participating. There is a real and obvious trust between Chrissy and the children; they clearly have confianza with her and are comfortable sharing how they’re feeling. Eventually, they would wander back in and rejoin the class.

As I filmed the kids dancing, it was lovely to see how much they looked up to the salsa teacher Jony. A few of them were grinning and looking on rapt as he lead the class. Sonido Del Movimiento is much more than just music and dance. It truly is a space where the kids can also have positive role models. There’s no pressure for them to participate if they don’t feel like it. Chrissy has created a space where the kids can both be comfortable and do cool things like sing, dance, and play instruments!

After my first visit to Caras Alegres, I decided to continue to volunteer my time with SDM. I’ve helped them flesh out plans for communications, social media growth, marketing materials, and a fundraising campaign. It feels good to use my skills to show the world what Sonido Del Movimiento is all about and working with Chrissy and Bethany (the development director) has been an absolute pleasure. They’re a small team, but a good one. If you have the chance to volunteer with them in any capacity, go for it! You won’t regret it.

- Carmen

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