J Balvin and Takashi Murakami Help Families and Children in Confinement

J Balvin Takashi Murakami BELatina

Against the skepticism of many — and the stubbornness of others — specialists in epidemiology and the World Health Organization have insisted on the only thing we can do to combat the coronavirus: Stay at home.

The most serious pandemic in recent years has taken millions of families by surprise, as they have had to restructure their routines overnight, organize a new system at home and, in many cases, take their children’s education into their own hands.

Faced with these new needs, and giving the example of how to follow instructions, several Latino artists have resorted to networks and unexpected collaborations to add their contribution to the new struggle of our community to maintain normality, in the midst of what is possible.

One of them has been the famous Colombian singer J Balvin, who before worrying about cancelled concerts has joined forces with Families Belong Together, a coalition of 250 organizations that was born in 2018 to counteract the cruel measures of the Trump Administration against the families of undocumented immigrants.

Coinciding with the release of his sixth studio album Colores, Balvin translated the artwork from his new album — designed by artist Takashi Murakami — into a downloadable, colorful curriculum that will help families with children facing confinement by COVID-19.

In an effort to use “the power of art and color to bring joy to those who need it most,” the artists and coalition have decided to lend a hand to parents and caregivers who are struggling to keep their children educated and entertained.

“Now more than ever, we must think about the families who are suffering and who don’t have the option of being together in their homes, but not only because of the virus, but also all the migrants who are fleeing violence and poverty all over the world,” said J Balvin. “I am collaborating with Families Belong Together because in addition to fighting family separation and detention, they use the power of art, including drawing, as therapy for children who are in traumatic situations with little activity.”

Families Belong Together reported in a statement that the colorful books, in addition to being available online, have been distributed to children living in shelters in Tijuana under the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

“We originally created this curriculum to stretch the imagination of children who have been separated from their families at the border and bring art into their lives,” said Paola Luisi, co-director of Families Belong Together. “Now, American families and families across the world have the opportunity to use these materials as a tool to teach empathy in their homes in solidarity with children who also do not have access to school at the border.”