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Who are we?

Armonia Cuscatleca is a California State non-profit organization in Los Angeles which focuses on promoting the integral development of children and young adults using musical education. Armonia Cuscatleca facilitates safe spaces for musical practice and rehearsals, coexistence and strengthening artistic and cultural bridges between children in El Salvador and Los Angeles, and helping to develop and save the cultural and musical identity of El Salvador.

Armonia Cuscatleca was born in 2015 initiated by Pablo Mendez Granadino as he worked as a teacher for Harmony Project LA alongside director Myka Miller, who offers musical education to more than 2,000 underprivileged students of Los Angeles. Considering the objectives of Armonia Cuscatleca and the necessity to offer children/youth affected by violence and high probability of immigration to the United States more opportunities, Pablo Mendez Granadino travelled from Los Angeles to his native country, El Salvador, to develop the first formal musical education program in San Pedro Perulapan, a rural municipality that has been agitated with high violence provoked by street gangs and has gained a position as one the of most violent sectors in the country. This program offers children/youth ages 8-14 and families of San Pedro Perulapan an alternative reality from the problems mentioned earlier. More than just musical education which helps strengthen and discover the highest potential of capabilities, discipline and self esteem, these families have come together to coordinate fundraising events, concerts and dinners both in El Salvador and the United States, bringing the community closer together. The project now has 50 students receiving free violin and cello instruction where unfortunately the public school system does not provide musical education as part of their curriculum. We have been generating very clear and positive results. Students have improved in school grades and family relationships at home. At least half of the students have the opportunity to take their instrument home and help create harmony within their households and communities.

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The project has received help in many different forms including help with transportation of instruments and vehicle loans from the Consulate of El Salvador in Los Angeles and the donation of instruments by Mendez Granadino’s family. We also receive help from individual patrons such as Myka Miller from the Harmony Project, the mayor of San Pedro Perulapan with their monthly donation to help maintain the location/office of Armonia Cuscatleca, the families and kind-hearted individuals that donate and organize fundraisers and concerts in Los Angeles and El Salvador, and Pablo Mendez Granadino who has given lessons 5 times a week in San Pedro Perulapan since January 2016. We are continuing to apply for grants and searching for other forms of donations to help stretch these musical opportunities to other parts of El Salvador.

Armonia Cuscatleca has played concerts in different parts of El Salvador including San Pedro Perulapan, San Salvador, Suchitoto, and the Granadino Festival in Santa Ana. We have also been featured in news articles both in El Salvador and Los Angeles and has been celebrated by the President of El Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who donated a few violins to Armonia Cuscatleca in 2016.

JUSTIFICATION

El Salvador has been in a violent conflict since the end of the civil war which ended with a peace treaty in 1992. The group of people most affected by the war were the younger generation, many of whom lost their families and resulted in mass refugee immigration to the United States, specifically Los Angeles, California.

During the 1980’s, these young people had to confront racism and discrimination from different groups of people, which caused a rapid growth of street gangs in order to defend themselves from Mexican and African American gangs already operating in Los Angeles. Many of these young Salvadoran gang members were deported to El Salvador and were able to transform the gangs into one of the most violent and dangerous criminal organizations in the world. Many of these crimes replicate the atrocities seen in the civil war, which had become a normal way of life that also led to fast and easy recruitment of the street gangs that operate and control many parts of El Salvador to this day.

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Armonia Cuscatleca hopes to obtain a positive impact for young people in El Salvador. Apart from all of the beautiful things El Salvador has to offer, violence and the growth of these organizations are on a steady rise. These new recruits have mostly come from poor communities that lack education, role models, and extra-curricular activities, making it an easy choice for them to join a gang and involuntarily include their families in the process. These vulnerable children/youth are exactly the ones who need to receive an opportunity like Armonia Cuscatleca. Offering free, formal, and quality music lessons, these young people will have the opportunity to see the world in a different way, fix problems in a broken system, have a role and voice within their communities, and be able to escape delinquency and depression that comes with it. Armonia Cuscatleca would benefit the entire country of El Salvador enriching musical and cultural aspects of their society and shaping positive leaders and role models for the growth of the community.

Objectives

GENERAL OBJECTIVES:

• Open safe spaces with the goal of strengthening musical and cultural abilities which would bridge the gap between the youth of El Salvador and Los Angeles.

• Promote positive development for children and young people using formal musical education.


SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES:

• Promote activities for participants in El Salvador and Los Angeles, which permit musical and cultural development while renovating the identity of Salvadoran art.

• Educate young people to become ambassadors of peace, hope and understanding.

• Create a healthy development for young people by studying, practicing and interpreting music.

• Study the diversity of cultures, and upbringings using musical contexts.

• Construct safe communities by offering positive musical development to the young people.