Friends of Chilama effort to aid town in El Salvador

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Your art is needed for Chilama, a village in El Salvador where art is rare.

The Friends of Chilama, a nonprofit group made up of about eight McHenry County residents and a U.S.-El Salvador Sister City, is asking for art and photography as part of an annual photo contest designed to raise money for delegations headed to El Salvador and highlight the work of area artists. Entries will be accepted through May 2.

A delegation from the Friends of Chilama, five or six members, are expected to go to Chilama in the fall, group leader Libby Pappalardo said.

They bring art supplies and host art classes, as well as provide health care and scholarship programs and a sewing initiative.

“Most of the children [in Chilama] only go through the fourth grade,” she said. “The art is so important because they only have math and reading, and they don’t get any chance to do creative art at all. When we come down, we bring art supplies, and they’re just like little sponges. They love it so much.”

As part of the contest hosted in cooperation with the Raue Center for the Arts, anyone from elementary students through adults are encouraged to enter photos or artwork. A fee of $10 a photo or artwork for adults and $5 a photo or artwork for elementary through college students is charged. Only amateurs can participate.

Winners at the high school and college level will receive $50, and student winners in the elementary and junior high categories will get $25.

The winners and honorable mentions, judged by the Friends of Chilama, will be displayed in an exhibit at the Raue Center for the Arts, with an awards presentation held at 6 p.m. May 8 at the center, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake.

Photos must be 8 by 10 inches with a neutral-colored mat that is 11 by 14 inches. Artwork can be any size or medium but must be matted or on a canvas. Entries can be dropped off at the center. The Raue Box Office is open from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Friends of Chilama have hosted a photo contest for five years and celebrated its 10th anniversary as a Sister City last year. Pappalardo started the group after having visited Chilama in 1995, and the group now has two members from El Salvador.

The village remains poor with little access to jobs and supplies and until recently didn’t have an access road.

For information on the contest or Friends of Chilama, call Pappalardo at 815-353-7473 or email

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