Visit to orphanage ‘Hogar de los Horneros’ supported by ‘Milongas para los Ninos’
Comments by Chris Condron
Don’t underestimate the affect one person can make……
Dedicated to the an tango community, who have contributed to the Para Los Ninos fundraiser events…..and to tango dancers worldwide who make a difference.
My trip to Buenos Aires this year was full of adventures that a typical tango junky experiences…crazy traffic…bouts of sickness ……media lunas with coffee every morning (morning being 1pm), rush to class after class…sleeping some more then off to a milonga…with plenty of coffee breaks in between….then repeat again!
This trip however moved me in a much deeper and unexpected way and it started more than a year ago with the fundraiser appeal for ‘Para Los Ninos’ when I was president of Tango Synergy. I remember the discussions that our organization had around being involved with an organization from South America…its authenticity, being responsible to our members, working with other schools…then the planning, decorating, auctioning of items…..then the transfer of funds…how to make sure there was a clear paper trail….then the collapse and sense of relief the volunteers felt having completed the event………then moving on to the next project.
The week before I left Australia, a couple of our students approached me asking me to include in my luggage a suitcase full of clothing and toys for the ‘Para Los Ninos’ orphanage (Hogar de los Horneros). Coming to the end of our trip in Buenos Aries we had a free day, so Jenny and I went to visit the orphanage to hand over the presents.
We took a 1hr long trip out of the city, moving through BA suburbia , the houses all covered with bars, dirt everywhere. Dodgey characters and loving families all crammed together onto the local train. We took a Remise (private car used as a taxi) from the station and arrived finally at a group of buildings on a large acreage in the middle of nowhere.
As we walked onto the property we were
surrounded with a load of smiling but sorrowful eyed little girls, kissing and hugging us hello and we were taken into the communal lounge room to be in front of the log fire, then offered mate, from “abuela” the grandmother who must have been close to 70 yrs old. If you wonder who ‘Para Los Ninos’ is…it is this woman!
HER STORY- IN around 1975 with 6 young children to care, and civil unrest around them, her husband was taken and never seen again…he was “ one of the disappeared” killed and thrown into some non-descript hole…she never saw him again and does not know where he is buried. Being a nurse, she looked after her children and tended the sick in a run down shack. As more people were killed by the civil strife she saw more children either abandoned, pregnant at puberty, abused by fathers and brothers and babies simply left on the street……what was she to do?….. she took them in…cared for them and called them family….this was the effect one person made.
“Abuela” (Eliza) took us through the orphanage, first pointing out where the building had been extended…showing clean but sparse rooms that were decorated with murals they had painted on the walls and doonas hand stitched, made from old jumpers cut up. Then she started to point at items and to say “ that came from Australia” the list was endless from fridges, desks that the children could do their home work on, beds, mattress, stove, fridge, clothes and most importantly the walls and extension on the building that provided clean safe living quarters for the children. Quietly in one of the rooms away from the children she told us her story and some of the stories of the children of the orphanage.
* at the moment there are around 4 boys and 10 girls staying
* all of them had been abandoned or abused in some way and placed there by the judicial system.
* one girl only 15 yrs old was breast feeding her 3 month old baby, one of the older boys maybe only 16yrs old was being a surrogate father to the baby.
Another girls eyes where the saddest I have ever seen…I was scared to even know her story!
FLASH BACK TO 1 YEAR AGO……to all those tango dancers throughout Australia that helped raise funds…..maybe you bought that painting you’ve never hung……….or that jewelry you have never worn…..maybe those bar signs made from glass shaped like a car….or those clothes that you had to give away because the didn’t fit…I would like to say on behalf of the orphanage thank you. Don’t underestimate the affect you have made! I have seen with my own eyes the difference our community has made, providing a safe, clean living space, medical care and a sense of family. I urge you when the next fundraiser occurs keep my story in mind, and if you get the chance visit, watch and listen.
Don’t underestimate the affect one person can make on the lives of others.
One evening whilst at our regular milonga El Beso, I was contemplating the day I had at the orphanage and how our actions affected these children’s environment, giving them a place to feel safe and stable and harmonious. With this in mind, I started to observe the community of the Buenos Aries tango dance floor; the affect the music had on the dancers, with each other and the couples around them. How they strive not to just have a good dance with their partner but also the community on the dance floor. I came to realise “Don’t underestimate the affect one person can make on the lives of others on the dance floor”
When you become focused on just yourself……you ignore the connection you have with your partner & the music.
When you become focused on just yourself, your partner and the music…you ignore the connection you have with the community on the dance floor.
When you focus on all four you can create some harmony and make a difference to the experience of those dancing around you.
I urge the local dancers when you get on the floor to be aware of who is in front and behind and see how you can include them in your dance by being aware of the space you both share, and dance to the music, this will in turn affect the dancers around you.
Look for the good dancers at a milonga and you may notice they will gravitate to sharing the same space with each other because they have developed their awareness of each other and strive to move in harmony with each other and the music.
In conclusion don’t underestimate the affect we as a community have made to these children lives, and don’t underestimate the affect one person can make on other dancers on the tango dance floor.