Your support provides young women & children like Amelie Reyes with leadership opportunities & ways to connect individuals in their communities.
Amelie Reyes is a high schooler from Jocotenango, Sacatepequez, Guatemala. “Jocote” (as heard by conductors yelling from the chicken buses) is a small working class neighborhood. Day to day you see families walking their children to school, pass by homes with women making tortillas, or carts selling chicharrones or bread & other sweets. Among those children & parents, you’ll see some students walking to an ever-growing, alternative school called “Los Patojos” (a Guatemalan word for small ones).
JUNTOS has worked with Los Patojos for the past 4 years, and holds much admiration for Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes the school’s founder & director. Juan Pablo created “Los Patojos” to combat the area’s gang violence, poverty, and poor educational opportunities. JUNTOS agrees with the mission of Los Patojos; that investing education can transform and develop a country like Guatemala.
When JUNTOS first began working with Los Patojos, Amelie was a new transfer to the school. Being in a new school can be difficult. Sometimes we feel different then our fellow classmates and it can be a hard transition. She had a background in dance, and she instantly connected to the JUNTOS dance volunteers & staff. JUNTOS could see that she had incredible potential & talent. Dance was something that helped her feel special & to connect with her fellow budding artists & community. JUNTOS hoped that she could continue being an inspiring leader to her peers, and we saw a bright future for this young woman.
Julia Horner, 2017 JUNTOSAmbassador (now JUNTOS Collaborator) spent four weeks teaching dance at Los Patojos. While teaching daily classes in contemporary, jazz, and improvisation, Julia was able to give private dance classes to Amelie. They worked on technique and created a contemporary dance solo that Amelie was to perform at the end of the four weeks. Julia tells us more,
“Amelie worked extremely hard the 4 weeks I was there. Previously, she and a friend would watch YouTube videos to learn dance. When I arrived, I was able to provide Amelie with structure and technique, things needed to become a disciplined and professional dancer. She began helping me demonstrate in classes I taught and worked with her peers to make them feel comfortable and supported. It was clear that dance helped her develop leadership and self-confidence. At the end of the four weeks we had put together a beautiful solo, where Amelie was able to connect with her peers through expressing herself and moving her body with strength & confidence.”
Amelie now dances at a school in Antigua, where she performs contemporary & aerial dance. She makes sure to attend every JUNTOS workshop, and keeps in regular contact with Julia.