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About the Author

Andrea Arzaba
Student / Blogger (Mexico City)

Andrea Arzaba defines herself as a “journalist, peace activist, indigenous cultures lover and an eager world traveller”. Currently, blogger for Global Voices Online and for Adopt A Negotiator Project. Andrea is studying her BA in Communications at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She studied last year at Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain.


Agriculture through indigenous art

Published 01st June 2010 - 12 comments - 3703 views -

Several months ago a couple of friends, my brother and I, had the opportunity to organize an art workshop to a group of indigenous kids. The town we went to is close to Toluca, the city where my parents live and where I grew up too.

All of the children we met were between 6 and 12 years old, with Mazahua origins. “Mazahua” people belong to a native culture in Mexico, and they refer to themselves as Hñatho (meaning deer people). Mazahuas speak Spanish (Mexico’s official language) and Mazahua, their ancestor’s language.

In Mexico, and generally in Latin America, it is frequent to see indigenous people -including children- living in poverty, as they do not have the same basic rights and opportunities any other kid from the city would. In most native cultures there is a lack of education, health care systems, an appropriate diet, and many others.

I decided I wanted to go to an indigenous village as I have always felt that they bring richness and colour to Mexican culture, and I love working with kids. Finally, we went to a school in San Nicolas Guadalupe, a lonely town with not much more than a church and a river. An indigenous girl who worked at a local school supported the project and she helped us gathering the children for the workshop.

It was not easy at first as these children where somehow timid, but we could also notice their excitement to see us, as visitors and foreigners where not frequent in this area.

I would like to share some drawings the kids made about their community, as maybe you can interpret and analyse them yourselves too.

When they were drawing, I asked them to represent their village as they see it and their most important activities during the day. Most of them refer to agriculture, as they usually eat what they grow.





They say art reflects our very own soul. After developing this project and spending some time together with these children, I would definitely agree with this affirmation. What do you TH!NK?


(Andrea Arzaba, June 2010)

Category: Agriculture | Tags:


  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 01st June 2010:

    Dear Andrea,

    Thanks for sharing. Art is really used to allow children to express their feelings because they can’t articulate these yet in words.

  • Johan Knols on 02nd June 2010:

    Interesting to have a closer look at these images.
    It tells me that these kids live in a rather green environment: there are a lot of trees in the drawings.
    Secondly it seems it is a flower rich area: every drawing shows flowers (of some kind).
    Obviously the sun is shining a lot and the community is a farming community. Biodiversity seems rich as I see birds, butterflies and a bigger water-bird.
    Even religion is present.
    Children indeed don’t lie.

  • Bart Knols on 02nd June 2010:

    Great - and nice drawings. Quite often, in management trainings, I ask people to draw their situation, the way they feel, to describe their working environment. It is a great way to sieve through complexity and remain with the essentials. Just like in these drawings. Right brain stuff!

  • Radka Lankašová on 02nd June 2010:

    Andrea, this is so beautiful! What I see in all pictures is a smile. The kids there seem to be happy. The best and also great idea is sun with glasses! It is brilliant indeed.

    We did something similar at work when we asked employees children to draw mom´s and dad´s work. Their drawings were excellent as it showed reality through their eyes. Each kid received a gift and since it was a competition, the winners had a gift of their choice. We used drawings for a calendar that was distributed to both employees and customers. Maybe you could make a calendar too and sell it and use the raised money for that community?

  • Benno Hansen on 02nd June 2010:

    Very cool! Good idea, Andrea.

  • Andrea Arzaba on 02nd June 2010:

    @ Iris: And imagine in another language! Yes…art can be an unique international language smile

    @ Johan: I like the way you interpreted this drawings.Yes they live in a very green environment and nature surrounds their own houses. Yes…the sun is a very important fact for them, as they are used to see it shining everyday but it is also needed for their agricultural familiar situation. And yes, catholic religion is indeed present! I just love these drawings so much smile

    @ Bart: So Bart if these kids live in a “developing world” environment (and they lack various if not all basic services)...can you say they are happy children? Just because of the drawings?

    @ Radka: This is a great idea Radka! (and I am so happy to know that the pictures gave you a big smile hihi) I will look more into it!! (you got me thinking now….oh sorry TH!NKING) Thank you!

    @ Benno: Ahhhh yes it was! I’m glad you liked it!!

  • Bart Knols on 02nd June 2010:

    That’s a very tough question to answer because I would then have to answer the question ‘What is happiness’. I have witnessed some of the most happy people in my life in places where they had virtually nothing to eat, lived in stone-age houses, and had never seen a radio or TV… But seemingly always carried a smile from ear to ear…

  • valeria vera on 02nd June 2010:

    I think that is a unique experience, that we really have to “read”  thos drawings as a way of expressing peace, to calm oruselves, to see the world is not only in the city ( even though sometimes   it looks like its the only reality).  We must not forget that, specifically in   Mexico,  there are millions living in a poverty that most of the time we dont see( or maybe dont want to see).

  • Larisa Rankovic on 02nd June 2010:

    Drawings are so sweet and heart warming

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 02nd June 2010:

    it’s so positive smile this picture with the church… it looks like medieval castle smile

  • Andrea Arzaba on 04th June 2010:

    @ Bart: Well, I know what you mean because you are right. These people might be poor, might lack most of the material things you can ever imagine…but their heart is warm and they will always have a big smile on their faces, and they will always welcome you! No matter who you are or where do you come from

    @ Valeria: I think the right term would be “we prefer not to see”, right?

    @ Larisa: I know! And you can even see the importance of water and rain for them, as this is the only way their crops can be able to grow and with this, they will be able to eat!

    @ Iwona: And the sun with its own sunglasses haha. I’m happy you like the drawings!

  • elibourdon on 10th June 2010:

    Andy !!! que bonito que escribas cosas así y las publiques para que en el mundo entero se pueda conocer mucho más sobre México y nuestras culturas indígenas… ya me habías enseñado esos dibujos a mí y recuerdo que lo hiciste con la misma ilusión y felicidad que se percibe al leer tu artítulo. Felicidades por eso ! Se te extraña muchooo…. Eli Bourdón

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