Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction

by Special Families Saint Julie Billiart (Familias Especiales Santa Julia Billiart)
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Help Artists w/disABILITY Fight Animal Extinction
Mother shows stampted pasport for bags project.
Mother shows stampted pasport for bags project.

"How do you do a Fair in the middle of COVID? Artiespecial is facing this question as they plan the 2021 Fair of Animals in Danger of Extinction in Nicaragua. The artists have not given up on the animals, even though they have been at times closed down for COVID. They are coming up with some creative ways to do their Fair at the end of May. By practicing the basics of COVID protection so far, none of these artists have been affected by the virus. In the meantime, they have teamed up with the Mother Leaders to do Mini-Fairs in neighborhoods on environmental work. These are fairs adapted for COVID. Together, they reflected that their work with animals in danger had been a journey of awareness; they then created an Environmental Passport to symbolize this journey. Small groups of mothers received their Environmental Passports. The first mothers Mini-Fair started on April 16. This Fair involves the mother traveling to different places within the Dorthy Stang Environmental Center in Matagalpa. The goal of this Mini-Fair is for the mothers to view the work the artists are doing to help the natural environment.
The mothers visited the Planet Of Piñatas, the State Of Sewing, the Region Of Recycle, the Kountry Of Kraft Bags, and the Animal Paradise Of Painting. Each mother masked up for the travel, a journey made with social distancing to learn about these works. The last stop was a Video Village where they could view environmental issues and values with possible solutions.
At each place, the mothers' passports were stamped with colorful seals and the artists explained their work for environmental protection. The Fair was successful, ending with a renewed commitment to join the artists with disabilities to ensure environmental protection and awareness of the animals in danger of extinction and assist in the May Fair.
The work continues as the artist plan the big Fair, which will involve more community members of Matagalpa, but with COVID guidelines. They will have a drawing contest with several schools. They are reviewing the Mini- Fairs to see how people are affected to develop the ideas for the big Fair in May.
They continue with their training in artistic-silk-screening during this COVID time. The hope is to have pictures of animals in danger of extinction in every possible place to create more awareness. The silk-screening is putting this dream to a new level. The next Mini-Fair is at the end of April in the southern neighborhoods. Doing these Mini-Fairs, the artists include the mothers of children with disabilities to join them in their quest. They are grateful for your support. We all know that saving animals from extinction is something we all want to do no matter which country, region, or paradise we live in on this planet.

Painter with her creations
Painter with her creations
girl  prepares for drawing contest
girl prepares for drawing contest
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Revewing drawings  animals in danger of extinction
Revewing drawings animals in danger of extinction

The artists working for awareness of the Nicaraguan animals in danger of extinction hope to make 2021 a year of change. Even with COVID, they want to create more awareness of these endangered animals. Most of the Nicaraguan's favorite animals are in imminent danger, such as the Toucans that fly in the forests and the Dolphins that swim in the Nicaraguan lakes. They have lost their habitats, or their habitats have been changed drastically by development projects and other human interventions. The artists with disabilities believe that if enough people become aware that animals are in danger, they can be saved from extinction.
The spread of COVID is no reason to ignore the plight of these animals. The best tool these young people have is their art. They can inspire people and help begin conversations on ways to save animals. They have discovered most people have no idea how close we are to losing these animals. Victoria is an artist who lives in a rural community outside Matagalpa. She has to take various buses to get to work, so her family had to make special arrangements to work in the city. Taking a bus is hard for Victoria since her mobility is dependent on a wheelchair, and buses in Matagalpa, are chronically overcrowded and are not accessible to wheelchairs. But that did not stop Veronica. However, because she lives in a rural area, she is more aware of the suffering animals. She sees fewer and fewer animals in her rural home. She is convinced that by working together, they can do something to change this situation. 
These enthusiastic artists have affected many in Matagalpa. Their hope for 2021 is that more people will join them to bring awareness to the animals in danger. Some actions that cause the problem include one crop farming, development projects, and plastic pollution. They are making plans to involve more students to participate in the painting contest. The winning paintings will become posters used for awareness not just in Matagalpa but in other parts of Nicaragua. This year they are also hoping to involve the schools in a poetry contest. The contests are part of the annual Fair for Animals in Danger of Extinction sponsored by Familias Especiales. They are teaming up with the neighborhood Mother Leaders to do some mini fairs in different neighborhoods instead of one big fair in Familias Especiales Park. 
The artists want to do more hands-on work in these fairs, like have a booth where they are actually painting images of animals and face-paints of people's favorite animals. By the time the fair comes along, they hope to be proficient in their silk screening, their newest endeavor. They have received a grant to purchase material to start. They are beginning training to reproduce these endangered animals on more objects like t-shirts and aprons and items that we have never even thought about. Once they learn silk-screening, nothing will stop them.
As one artist explained, painting these animals can keep them alive for others. We are only a vehicle for their spirit to speak: "We are part of creation, and we need to survive."
The other hope for 2021 is to get more information and research on these animals by making contacts among different animal groups. One of these contacts is an active program to save sea turtles, especially their eggs, from poachers. They hope to invite these organizations to the fairs throughout the year and find more energy in their fight to save the animals in danger of extinction in Nicaragua. We are so proud of these young artists, animal activists, who want you to know that you have made a difference through your support. In their lives. What a fantastic way to fight extinction than through artwork. The artists have always said that they identify with these animals because of their disABILITIES. A young person said, "We don't want to become extinct ourselves." So, thank you. Please continue to help them create so that these animals can be at the forefront of people's minds when they make decisions that affect their habitats. The only way, according to the Artists, is to fight this together through their art.

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Danger of Extinction say artists w/ disAbility
Danger of Extinction say artists w/ disAbility

The artists trying to depict the animals in danger of extinction were the first program of Familias Especiales (FE) to start back up in end of July.  They were always working out of their homes to paint animals in different everyday household items.  They made a decision that they could safely get to work and use a mask plus social distance.  They petitioned to see if they could go ahead and reopen before the rest of the program.  In the mean time they had started a large contract with a school in Holland to make potholders with animals painted on them.  The research and perseverance of these artist is very impressive.  They have become experts about many different animals not only in Nicaragua but around the world.  They always use material which has been recycled for instance making paper bags from paper sent to them from a milk company or recycling material from old security guard uniforms.  

In Nicaragua the schools did not close down during the pandemic.  Even though FE's special education school closed the public schools remained open.  So our artists had contact with some schools and right now they are working with a Dutch twin city to do a daylong training on how to reuse material to create art.  Of course they will be painting their beloved animals in danger of extinction.  So the training will be to raise consciousness among the 13 schools about these animals.  There will be a teacher from each of the schools receiving the training from three of our artists all wearing masks of animals in danger of extinction 

These artists continue to be leaders in the environmental area in our city.  One of the young women who make paper bags said “oh so many people told me I would never be able to do anything since I am blind, if they could just see me now."  This young woman is the fastest paper bag maker in Nicaragua making as many as 100 bags in a work day.  So she is rightfully proud of her ability.  Those paper bags are hand painted with different animals and become beautiful packaging which sends a message to try to save the animals. These artists are supported by others who also work in the art area but serve as God Mothers to artists with disability.  The mothers themselves have children with disABILITY and earn their living working with the artists to empower them in this work.  

What’s new for these artist in 2020?  Well, they have received a grant to purchase material to start silk screening.  In the next few months they will start training and begin reproducing these special animals like Dolphins, Toucans and Panthers on more objects like t shirts and aprons and really objects that we have never even thought about.  They already hand paint the animals on the yogurt lids to try to bring animal lovers to an awareness on many levels and all of this during a pandemic. Once they learn the silk-screening nothing will stop them.

Their masks have become famous as they try to get people to prevent the spread of COVID in Matagalpa.  

FE wants to thank everyone for their support of this project and to say directly we are not going away.  Maybe we had to close to protect our health but we are not extinct and we don’t want any of these animals to continue to lose members because of lost habitats and other reasons. These beautiful animals mean a lot to the planet.  All is not lost just because we are social distancing, in fact we believe that we have saved a lot by living more carefully, so we will continue to look to see how this affects our animal population.  For these artists it is having a calming affect which they hope will keep animals from extinction.  

Everyday objects painted to save animals in danger
Everyday objects painted to save animals in danger
silk screening can save animals in danger
silk screening can save animals in danger
Proud fastest kraft bag maker before pandemic
Proud fastest kraft bag maker before pandemic
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The dolphin is one of the animals in danger
The dolphin is one of the animals in danger

There are many stories and videos around the world showing the renewing effect the pandemic has had on wildlife. At Familias Especiales (FE) the artists who work for the saving of animals in danger of extinction are hoping that will happen in Nicaragua, but they have no proof of this yet.   As of March 25 these artists have been sheltering in place.  They however have kept painting out of their homes with the little material that they had stored up before leaving the foundation facilities. The latest project before closing was doing protective face masks depicting the animals.

The decision was made by the foundation to close as Nicaragua started having cases of Covid19.  FE works with people who are vulnerable and could not envision doing anything else even though still at this time in May the government of Nicaragua has mostly ignored the pandemic and have not order any social distancing or self-protection for their citizens and the country leads in the percentage of deaths and cases ratio in Central America.  This is a sad reality but one that the artists have to live with and come through so they can continue this project. The projected return is June 1.  

As one of the artists said. “We are just like the animals in danger of extinction, fighting for our lives  with this virus”.  When the program does re open they hope to find new arts and crafts to depict the struggle and the beauty of the animals in danger of extinction.  Before the group goes back to work there are construction plans to improve their working conditions and to create more space for more artists to join their ranks and a silk screen project in order to have more ways to produce their activist art.

The hope is to continue with the art contest depicting the animals in danger of extinction, we are not sure about the fair but the contest will be workable.  This year they are hoping to put into place a new category of poetry to help save the animals, one that includes poetry in sign language. One artist put it this way as she said in sign language, “Things will be different but we will continue to struggle for these animals.  They are important to us all.”

Families Especial wants to thank everyone for their support of this project and to say directly we are not going away.  Maybe we had to close to protect our health but we are not extinct and we don’t want any of these animals to continue to lose members because of lost habitats and other reasons. These beautiful animals mean a lot to the planet.   When they re-open they still plan a trip to hear about programs at the Managua zoo which is the center for work with the animals in danger of extinction.  All is not lost just because we are still sheltering in place, in fact we believe that we have saved a lot by sheltering in place, so we will continue to look to see how this affects our animal population.  Even if the number of people doing social distancing and sheltering in place is not large right now it is having a calming effect.  

 

 

The animal drawing contest will continue
The animal drawing contest will continue
children enjoying the work of the activist artists
children enjoying the work of the activist artists
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If you walk into the saint Julie accessible park you might think you are entering into a jungle.  There are animals all over the place.  The animals were al created by the artists who are working to protect the animals in Nicaragua from extinction.  The fair was a huge success in that many children and adults participated.  We had over 400 entries in the drawing contest. And each school presented a different cultural activity as well as organization throughout Matagalpa shared their educational material.  The zoo from Managua came and presented their programs to try to help animals in danger of extinction.  

But what do the artist do to continue this work.  This issue of the animals in danger of extinction is very big and actually there are very few people involved in this great task.  The artists are working on many different art projects sharing with others about the animals and the need to change our own lives in order to protect the animals.

They are painting animal cards, and CDs with animals in danger of extinction and creating animals out of used tires for people to use as planters.   Any way that they can bring these animals into the consciousness of people they are trying.    They have posted video on youtube and on facebook. They are receiving talks about the animals and plan a trip to Managua to find out what the zoo is doing.  In Nicaragua the zoo is the main place where people receive information on the animals in danger of extinction.  Many of these artists have never been able to see the animals that they are painting, except through fotos and videos.  Because of this project many of these artist are beginning to feel they can make a change in the world.  Thank you for your support of this project and for caring about the animals who are in danger.  What is interesting is that the dire situations that Nicaraguans are living also affects animals who migrate for the winter or summer to Nicaragua.  What happens when birds who have migrated to the same spot hundreds of years and they come and that area has been developed into a single crop farm.  Those birds have no place to go and they begin to be in danger even though they live in the north or south of Nicaragua. So it is important that this work continues for the whole world.  

display at fair
display at fair

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Project Leader:
rebecca trujillo
Matagalpa, Matagalpa Nicaragua
$4,525 raised of $6,000 goal
 
18 donations
$1,475 to go
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