“I now feel more confident and believe I can accomplish my goals, perhaps even one day become a professional teacher and found my own dance school.”
Eymi, 11-year-old from Nagarote, Nicaragua
I’ve visited many communities in Latin America. I must admit that time after time, it is difficult to leave each one knowing how much potential in education and creativity has been left behind. So many organizations and communities are doing such wonderful work, yet there is a reality that some people in life are just not granted the same opportunities that others may receive. Nicaragua is especially difficult for me: so many children with such bright, energetic smiles and warmth, yet so few with opportunities and resources to reach their potentials. I know there will never be a way to touch everyone, but when I met Eymi I knew there might be a way to contribute to her artistic endeavors.
August 2013 was our (both JUNTOS and my) first time to Nagarote, Nicaragua. We were working with NicaPhoto for the first time: an organization offering educational support to children living in some of Nicaragua’s poorest barrios. The small town of Nagarote is characterized by extreme poverty: tin or brick houses with dirt floors, single rooms, sometimes an outhouse, sometimes none. Visiting Nagarote means experiencing economic poverty in the most abrupt way. I had absolutely no idea what to expect — would this be a good fit for JUNTOS? Would the students in Nagarote be attentive? Would they like it?
It was during our first workshop when I met Eymi (pronounced Amy) for the first time. Young, bright, determined. She was six at the time – the youngest in the room – and the most eager. Her enthusiasm and attention to our two-hour class confirmed the answers to my questions and left me reflecting on how to further develop programming in Nagarote for children such as Eymi. (Since that first encounter JUNTOS has developed a wonderful partnership with NicaPhoto, often sending alumni and ambassadors a few times a year to teach dance.)
After the first three years working at NicaPhoto, and a growing relationship with Eymi, I decided I wanted to do more. Nine at the time, Eymi was a bright ball of energy and always the first one in our dance classes, last one out. I don’t think we could have stopped her if we tried. She was TALENTED. She demonstrated rhythm, passion, and leadership. When the chance arose for me to sponsor dance classes in Managua for Eymi, I knew I had to jump on such a unique opportunity.
I am honored to be able to provide Eymi dance classes on a weekly basis in Managua at Academia Nicaragüense de la Danza (another one of the JUNTOS partners). My sponsorship provides the dance classes, transportation to and from, and dance outfits/costuming. It’s been two years since she’s started, and I’m thrilled to grant her this experience, one that she clearly has craved from the moment we met. While I realize Eymi may not dance for the rest of her life, I do recognize the education, friendships and the support it has given her for the future. Sponsoring Eymi in this way taps into her potential as a dancer, an artist, and most of all, her potential as a human.
“I now feel more confident and believe I can accomplish my goals, perhaps even one day become a professional teacher and found my own dance school… This scholarship is a huge opportunity for me; I feel so grateful that you selected me and that my family is also so encouraging and supportive…So much love, Eymi”
(Excerpt of letter written from Eymi to Joanna March 20, 2018)