This story really begins in March 2011 when one of the artists – Bernice Wilson – was visiting Sucre, Bolivia on a year out after finishing her BA Fine Art.
She spent 6-7 weeks there learning some Spanish and enjoying the city. Bolivia is very poor and going through a lot of political turmoil at present, but she found the people were lovely, friendly and not without ambition.
While there she met an English writer (Philomena Winstanley) who bases herself in the city of Sucre, and in her free time (it seems like a full time job from the outside) she runs a magazine (inti-revista.org). Philly produces this magazine with local adults, whom she is teaching all aspects of writing and publishing to.
The magazine itself is bi-lingual and contains stories, drawings and information about and by the local street children. These children normally work to help their families – doing jobs like shoe shining, stall vending, newspaper selling … some even resort to begging.
The aim of the magazine is to earn the children a little cash while educating them at the same time. They volunteer (at weekends) to sell the magazine, and similar to the Big Issue model, they get to keep half the money, whilst the other half goes into running costs of the next edition and educational trips for the children. The children do learn the value of money since they are not given further magazines to sell if they do not hand in their takings.
At present there is only enough money to produce the magazine every two months and a relatively small amount are printed. Philly would really love to print more and more often – getting more children involved. The end goal is to encourage the children to learn and value learning.
Whilst in Sucre, Bernice and a group of fellow travellers volunteered some time and money to take the “inti” children on a trip to a neighbouring village. During the day, with the childrens permission lots of photos were taken and a plan was hatched to return home to the UK, paint portraits of the children and try and raise some money for them.
This has somewhat evolved…
Rather than just tackle this by herself … Bernice invited (in May this year (2012)) a few friends to join her and before she knew it there were 13 fellow artists on board which is fantastic.
The idea of a reciprocal project was also born around this time. Have the artists paint a portrait of a street child and with the help of Philly (the mastermind behind the magazine) invite the child in question to paint a portrait of the artist. Then with the two works paired up hold an auction here in the UK and all money raised would go back to help the street children and the magazine.
Then there was a panic there wouldn’t be enough children wanting to get involved to make it work and a sister organisation in the city – Biblioworks – kindly stepped in to help. This is an organisation also helping enrich the lives of the children through books – biblio meaning book. There is now 31 children from across both organisations involved in this project