February 24, 2010
Charlie King and Karen Brandow, noted folk singers from the Boston area, will perform in the Quad Cities Friday, March 12, to raise money for the Centro Maya Project, to help children and families participating in a school for children with disabilities in San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala.
The concert will be at 7 pm at Broadway Presbyterian Church, 710 23rd St., Rock Island. Weavings and jewelry made by the mothers of the children will be sold before the concert.
Until the last few years, children with disabilities were not able to attend school in the Mayan villages in Guatemala. Because there are few jobs and a shortage of affordable food, 70% of children in Mayan villages like San Juan are malnourished. The children with disabilities were not expected to live to adulthood.
In 2002, Jeanne Nakamaru, a speech therapist for the Black Hawk Area Special Education District in the Illinois Quad Cities, went to Guatemala and volunteered at Centro Maya, which was a center run by parents. After she came back she made a presentation about the project at her church, and since that time, the Unitarian Church in Davenport has raised funds for the Centro Maya program as a social justice project. Some of the money that has been raised has paid for a physical therapist, hearing aid molds and audiology services, water filtration for village families, and supplemental corn and beans for families of the children attending the Centro Maya school. Donations have also included children's books in Spanish, hearing aids, eyeglasses, wheelchair, even a van to pick up children from nearby villages. A number of church members have visited Centro Maya.
Jeanne and her husband Bob Nakamaru have purchased land in San Juan La Laguna and created garden space with water supply for some of the families to grow their own vegetables. They are aided by local people, including a well-known artist of the area, Benedicto Ixtamer.
Charlie King has been performing in the Quad Cities every year for many years. Pete Seeger has called him, "One of the finest singers and songwriters of our time." His songs are topical, sometimes moving, and often humorous. His wife, Karen Brandow, studied vocal performance and guitar during her eight years living in Guatemala in the 1980's. She performed while there, and has performed with Charlie King sine 1998. More information about their music is available at www.charlieking.org.