One of Rik’s projects here is a youth drop-in centre (JPC) for the so-called “thugs” of Huancayo – those who are not necessarily thieves or hooligans, but are nevertheless looked down upon in society because they are different. Most are break dancers, rappers, graffiti artists. All are kind, welcoming, and open.Ruth, a young dance teacher from The Netherlands, has been teaching modern dance classes three days a week at JPC and it’s amazing to see the raw talent in these guys shine. They communicate with their bodies, imitating, improvising, expressing themselves – their anger, their strength, their playfulness, their creativity. It’s hard to imagine that these same guys need to work 7 days a week just to pay for food and rent, and could barely afford the 5 soles (less than $2) fee for the field trip to Huaytapallana (one of the most famous peaks in the Central Andes, reaching past 5000m with snow, glaciers, and all that jazz).
The other night, we went to support BTU’s break dancing show at the discoteca. Their show went without a hitch and they were so proud of the shirts they had designed and bought for themselves, the BTU crew, with their individual names stitched on the bottom right of each shirt.
It’s interesting to think how much kindness, personality, and talent many people in Peru are missing simply because they discriminate against these youth. And how much more would these guys thrive if they did have more support from their own community? Despite the odds, they have taken initiative to spend their free time practicing, to seek out opportunities to perform, to write meaningful lyrics, to make music videos with what little they have. Why don’t I have a passion? Why don’t I put more effort into the things that I love when I already have so much love and support from others?