Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beachball news

July 22, 2008
Guaymas has been my July destination, on and off, for 11 years. It is challenging sometimes to pick out little moments when so much has passed, when we have seen so much.
The unusual becomes common.
Amazingly enough you almost don’t even notice the poverty.
The kids look dressed for a day of summer camp, mostly dressed like kids at home. As I look more closely at those waiting to get into class, I remind myself that the messages on t-shirts are in the English of donated apparel from north of the border. The kids often have no idea what their own shirt says.
Next to their Sunday best, those clothes are the nicest ones they own.
Sometimes those are their Sunday best.
With a little help from my friend.
Luz Marie reached over to coach her friend Paola, who colored the sandal shapes stenciled on the white parts of her new beach ball. It seemed as if she needed a little help. After a while Paola returned the favor.
I wondered if they were so close as friends that they were trying to create identical artwork. For 20 minutes I watched as they traded tips, helping each other in the way of best friends.
At the end, however, they had each created independently unique versions.

In other beach ball news:

Jesus colored his beach ball according to expression.
When he used a red marker, he pressed his lower teeth into his upper lip; purple brought a twist of his lips the left. With orange, he wore the perennial favorite expression, his tongue between the lips. (okay, I was recently caught with a similar expression while focusing on a photograph)
The removal of a pen cap, tight with newness, brought a look of consternation.
On thing remained constant: his focus.
I can only wonder whether he had an emotional storm going on inside, only because he changed colors often, and so his expression changed often, until the spell was interrupted by Community Circle.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Live from Jerry's Club, circle the kids.

Camera in one hand, origami paper in the other I come to you live from Jerry's Club in Guaymas, for the second of two weeks of the summer program.
Jerry's Club is a place where kids can come and hang out, play games, shoot hoops, read a book, learn to roller skate and be inside a compound the size of four basketball courts (some of it is shaded) where they are free from the harassments of the barrio. In side the club, respect and good behavior are the rule. Kids love to be at the club and so the threat of losing access is usually enough to keep them treating each other according to those rules that Jerry set up something like 15 years ago.
It is also a great setting for the class, with shade, but great airflow.
Renee is trying yet another technique that she and many other teachers have used successfully at home to begin to instill community and mutual respect among the children, and in this case, for each other's artwork.
Sitting in a circle each child, while holding a ball introduces them self and says something about the subject of the day. Maybe it is why are you here or what did you like about today's activities? "Because my mom sent me" or "because I heard it would be muy divertido"(very fun).
This is a tool that while using it herself, Renee is teaching it to Jerry, who is here all of the time. It is a great tool to help develop respect and honesty toward each other.
The class begins and ends with this community circle this week.
It was the same lineup as last Monday of Origami boxes, coloring name tags and the covers of cloth notebooks. Creativity, manual dexterity, and community.

Trials of Guaymas:
We have been without water at the house for two days. No washing dishes, no showers and, of course, nothing with which to flush. It is unclear why but, from time to time, the city shuts off the water to one section or another of town. The volunteer house has a tank, about ten feet deep and five feet square that fills when the water flows. A pump pressurizes the the house, and voila, the water flows through the house.
Over the course of the weekend, the tank nearly went dry. When that happens we have to shut off the pump to avoid burning it out. This morning we thought the drout had ended as water began flowing into the cistern again. I went out to prime the pump and get water flowing again before everyone was up. Just as I watched the pressure gage arrive at 40 psi, the line from the pump to the house sprung its second leak in less than a week.
What else could be done. I laughed, and shut it off......
Chiano arrives this later this morning to make repairs.....

I am curious to see who is checking in, feel free to post comments below.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Success, and the little things.

Well, obviously I have not been able to access the internet as regularly as I thought. Of course there is also, always more to do here and, of course, preparing for class each day, working with the kids and making the photographs takes precedence over everything else…..and so with some delay:

Monday, July 14,
Her face wrinkled in frustration, In front of her a neon pink square of paper creased in intersecting folds.
Eight-year-old Karla, had stopped smiling.
Around her, 16 other children furiously folded paper this way and that forming Origami boxes with varying success. The tension in Karla’s forehead seemed ready to squeeze tears from her eyes.
Seeing this through my lens, knowing the other teachers were busy, I stepped in to help. Identifying a missed cut, an extra fold, I helped her correct her mistakes and get her started on a fresh box.
Suddenly it clicked. Her little hands picked up speed, folding this point to the center, creasing here, cutting there.
Karla began folding as furiously as her classmates, folding each little box a bit more precisely than the last. When it was time to move on to the next activity, Karla had amassed six Origami boxes and had relocated the smile on her face.
When I work with this program for some inexplicable reason I find myself having to explain the purpose of arts and crafts. I am not an elementary teacher, however I know that these projects teach basic skills such as using scissors, paints and pens, teach children like Karla, to stick with a project until they get it and get better at it. These and other projects to follow teaches children to think creatively (not always present in Mexican schools) and ultimately to have these things reinforced with success.
AND such projects give the kids something different and fun to do in the depths of a hot and humid Guaymas summer.

Tuesday, July 15.
It’s the little things.
Many of the children here wear flip-flops as shoes. IF they have nice shoes those are reserved for school and church. On other days, many simply go without.
Yesterday a little girl approached Renee, the lead teacher, with a broken flip flop.
Knowing very well that fixing the only part of the shoe that keeps the foot in place would not be possible, Renee immediately thought of the bag of shoes that her own daughter had outgrown. She had brought the bag along for donation and realized the solution lie in her own suitcase at the volunteer house.
The little girl exploded in surprise and delight as Harvey, one of the managers of Franciscan Causes, laced up a pair of tennis shoes on her little feet.

Today’s agenda included a number of activities fitting for the level of every child. Coloring and painting.
The children attacked the first project, an unadorned, cardboard, Lone Ranger-style mask waiting to be colored. They poured out their creativity, applying colored pens and stick-on shapes designs from simple to complex.
Those masks stayed on their faces or foreheads until they left at 10:30.

At another table, beach balls, stenciled with outlines of flowers and fish, awaited customization by the kids. After explaining the day’s activities to the children, Renee started some of the kids on their beach balls. Veronica’s face lit up with uncontained joy when it sank in that not only was the ball for her to keep, but that she could decorate it as she saw fit.
Children have so little in the barrios. Receiving such toys is so rare that it is usually outside their realm of expectations for them to ever hope for such things. Top that with one that will contain your own artwork?
Think of your own childhood delight on your birthday or Christmas, combine that into one delirious package and that would be the Veronica’s reaction.
Did I mention that Guaymas is HOT?
Guaymas is a place with the heat of Phoenix and the humidity of New England.
Working in the classroom, the din of our comfort masks that of children being creative.
Six ceiling fans, and four floor fans create the illusion of cooler air in San Benito, the mission’s meeting hall. The class runs from eight in the morning until ten with the intention of avoiding the worst of the heat. In spite of this effort, between the five Mexican helpers, we four adults and the 26 children in attendance, we consume maybe four gallons of water each day.
Wednesday,July 16.
Missed half of class running to andd from the photo lab (gotta love the speed of digital) to finish off portraits for the picture frames the ids were making today. The hit of the crafts projects however was the flowers made of tissue paper. For the kids who really struggled with Origami, They loved the success allowed them to experience.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy July, welcome to the blog

I hope this find you all dealing well with the heat and finding new ways to enjoy the long sunny days of Summer.
In doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint, my international work this summer will take me only a short distance to Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico to document the 2008 outreach program at the Casa Franciscana. This is a program that has been supported with great passion by the parishioners of St. Maria Goretti Church in Scottsdale as well as by other committed donors around the Valley for 21 years.
Through the lead organization, Franciscan Causes, the program reaches out to the children of the poorest of the poor conducting classes filled with a healthy mixture of reading, arts and crafts and other fun every weekday morning for two weeks. It is a brilliant highlight in the rough summer in the lives of these children and one that leaves an indelible positive impression.
It has been five years since my lens last took this all in, so I am anxious to see just what great new images are waiting to be made as I update the archive and show donors the impact of their generosity.
If I can get a dependable internet connection, I will update this blog regularly of the program so that any of you who are interested may keep up with how it is going.

Independents and The Golden Ticket
No, not an uprising at the Willy Wonka factory, but a local phenomenon designed to help you save a few bucks this week with many of local businesses.
Local First Arizona is celebrating Local First Week by encouraging Valley residents to buy from local independent businesses from June 30 to July 6.
The Golden Ticket, available at entitles the bearer to 20% off purchases with participating businesses, including, of course, D'Elia Photographic.
For those who are not familiar, Local First is an organization that encourages buying local whenever possible to keep our dollars in our local economy.
At D’Elia photographic this translates into a 20% savings on invoices of assignments booked during this week.
If you need a family or corporate portrait shot, an event covered, a marketing or advertising campaign photographed, or even a piece of fine art to spice up your walls this would be a great time to get it done and save a few bucks in the process.
As an added bonus I will take another 10% off jobs executed before I travel to Guaymas on July 12. Did I hear a "But wait, thats not all"? I will honor this coupon on jobs booked through July 11.

To book an assignment with D’Elia photographic, please contact us at 480-452-5723 or email at

To find out more about us, please visit our website,