“Music is happiness, discipline, transformation and a universal language that brings people together”
In the past five years the Oro Molido Foundation has used the transformational power of music, to establish change in the communities we work with. We primarily focused on children and youth from the rural areas surrounding the Oro Molido coffee plantations, but we have expanded to other, more remote locations. In all of the communities we work with, we use the transformational power of music to make the children and youth use their free time in a productive and joyful way and by doing so change their own realities and the reality of the communities they live in.
The first notes at Oro Molido’s communities were played by the Palomos’ Marching band, a group of students from a local school of a small village in the southwestern territory of Antioquia in Colombia. A beautiful location surrounded by mountains covered by wild nature and coffee plantations nicely planted in harmony with the environment. The Foundation sponsors the marching band by providing musical instruments, a budget to participate in nationwide events and a music conductor who plays an important role in teaching music, choreography and the administration of the program.
Transformation in Palomos has occurred on many levels because of music. People in the village had many differences and old conflicts that were never resolved. Next to that the town suffered from drug related problems and other social problems that were out of hand of the local authorities. However, the school and its music program has shown a different reality and a way to get out of these conflicts. Free time is now used for long sessions of music lessons and marching drills. And once the marching band is rehearsing as a group, the whole village comes together, forgetting their differences, and enjoying the band’s performance. Heiber Mandez, the music conductor says: “Through music you learn that in life you are defined by your decisions and not by the conditions that surround you”. He believes that the reality of many of the musicians that follow him to different performances have changed already. “Many of my student musicians didn’t have the opportunity to see beyond the borders of their own village, but because of our program the students and their families have the chance to experience other regions of the country and interact with people with different perspectives which has opened their worldview”.
Armando Garcia, one of the musicians that has participated in the program for three years now says “music has the ability to calm you down, even if you are upset, bored or angry. Once you play your musical instrument, if you play it with passion, you will forget everything and the music just flows.”
Because of the success we’ve had with our music program in Palomos, our goal now is to take music to all places where the Oro Molido company has influence. Last year, we opened a music school in the municipality of Montebello, a couple hours further east from Palomos. Over there, through an alliance with the local music school, we are impacting around 350 students from rural and semi urban settings, in which students have the chance to explore music through marching bands or a youth symphonic orchestra.
Most importantly, the Foundation is making a remarkable effort to reach very isolated communities where no other organizations or even the government have gone. The difficulties of the terrain and a rather poor road system make it a difficult task for the two music teachers we hired, to reach small groups of students twice every week. But every time the Foundation gets there, the faces of these future musicians light up and the enthusiasm with which they participate is a motivation to continue, a true indicator that the program itself makes a difference to the lives of many.
The Peace Marching Band