Chiloé, IX Region, Chile
Fellow Since 1996
This profile was prepared when Gabriel Coddou was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
The essence of the idea that Gabriel Coddou is implementing in southern Chile is that children's choral groups are a remarkably versatile and effective instrument for addressing the many ills that afflict indigenous communities throughout the Andean region. The choral groups learn songs in their native languages and perform them in local festivals, on television and in concerts and other gatherings throughout the country. Their activities are nurtured and sustained by a support system that is contributing in important ways to the preservation of indigenous languages, encouraging citizens to join forces in a wide variety of community endeavors and helping unite communities that have been both isolated and badly divided for many years.The opportunity to sing in the choral groups and to travel and perform throughout Chile offers children from the poorest segments of rural Chilean society opportunities to broaden their horizons through exposure to new experiences. It also gives them pride of accomplishment and strengthens their desire and interest in continuing their education. In addition, the choral groups are "living advertisements" of the benefits of cultural diversity and unusually effective vehicles for transmitting other important and timely social messages.