Rafa – A Teacher Who Inspires

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Our music teacher, Rafael Contreras – Rafa for short, is the epitome of the teacher we look for here at the Volcanes Kids Education Project. He is in charge of our music program and has done a fabulous job of teaching our students. When he began giving music classes here, our kids were literally at level zero in musical knowledge. But in less than three months they were playing a number of songs and playing them successfully. Our band (wind instruments) was the toast of the neighborhood in less than a year. They were playing all over town, in important and local venues.

A few months ago, our students were left without instruments when we had a split with the organization which was loaning them to us. They came with their trucks, loaded them up with instruments and left. Our kids were heart broken. Many of them wanted to quit the music program because they felt it was lost forever. All of us, administrators at VKEP, community members and parents, mobilized and did everything in our power to keep them all together and keep them believing and we promised to get instruments for them as soon as possible. The parents baked cookies and other goods to sell. Some made handbags. Little by little we began to make progress. But most of the credit goes to maestro Rafa. When we sat down to talk about the instrument problem, we knew we would not have instruments for a few months.

Rafa is a very positive individual, the kind of person who always sees the glass half full…… and of expensive wine. He loves obstacles and challenges, they bring out the best in him and everyone else, he says. He faced the problem of no instruments by turning our band into a choir. At first, a lot of the kids did not think they were capable of singing. Some of them were embarrassed, especially the older kids. But in a little less than two months, they have been leaving crowds speechless with their beautiful voices. The beautiful thing is that, thanks to two generous donations, one from The Spring Hill School and one by Bob and Denise Summers, we will have a complete set of instruments in the next few weeks of January 2020!! We will now have a dual-threat music program: a band with wind instruments and a choir.

Rafa’s influence goes beyond the music program. He recently moved to Volcanes to be closer to our project and be more involved with the students. He has taken them bicycling and has given lessons on how to fix bikes. He also started a basketball team (it has turned into two) which he trains after the music classes. Kids have begun to flock to all of these activities and it is all a result of Rafa’s dedication to them. It is teachers like him who make our program what it is.

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