Kithara Project in Yuguelito
The community of Yuguelito is located in the heart of the Mexico City borough of Iztapalapa, upon land that in the 1980's had been used as a landfill.
In 2008 the site was settled. 1000 families now live in the community, although the exact number of inhabitants is unknown. Yuguelito is not technically recognized by the state, and for that reason it is in many respects self-governing, taking internal responsibility for virtually all normal municipal services. Despite lacking potable groundwater, for example, the community has worked alongside Isla Urbana, a local NGO devoted to rainwater harvest, to build a system for rainwater harvest and purification.
As part of a 2013 survey conducted through the School of Social Work at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, residents were asked to identify the service, or amenity, they would most like to see in Yuguelito. From all the options -- which included mental health services, computer skills training, and sports opportunities -- a majority chose music. Music, many argued, would be at once a way of cultivating a distinct identity for the community and of confronting the many challenges – particularly for young people – endemic to life in Yuguelito. It bears repeating: amidst such economic duress, the residents of Yuguelito chose music.
2. Program Summary
Kithara Project operates a year round, immersive music program (with special emphasis on the classical guitar) in Yuguelito. Since 2015, students have attended workshops, lessons, chorus, and theory classes.
Mexican students also correspond with their peers in our Boston program via video messaging and social media. (Additionally, in 2018 ten will travel from Mexico to Boston to join their peers in forming the core of an international children’s guitar orchestra.) In summer 2017 we will begin construction of a music school in Yuguelito, designed pro bono by a renowned local architect, and which will serve as an artistic hub for both Yuguelito and the surrounding neighborhoods. In time, we will use the program as a template for other programs in Mexico and the US, in communities that similarly regard music education as a way of confronting the interlinked challenges of poverty, inequality, and social marginalization.