2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award Nominee: Cirilo Martinez

When Cirilo Burgos Martinez, 22, of Paraguay, plays a musical instrument or stands in front of an orchestra as conductor, he is not only living his own dream, but also helping other young people and children realize their dreams.

Music became an integral part of Cirilo’s life when he learned to play the flute after joining his SOS Children’s Village family in Luque, Paraguay as a 9-year-old boy. At the age of 13, he was already performing with a youth symphony orchestra.

Cirilo realized he was fortunate to receiver a musical education and wanted to share his gift with others.

“When I was 14, I started to teach music in the SOS Village. I remember that some of my students were older than me,” Cirilo said.

Even Jose Ramirez, Village Director of the SOS Village in Luque, is one of Cirilo’s students. Cirilo’s passion was unstoppable. Soon he was traveling 30 miles a week to reach more children. And today he spends a total of 24 hours in a bus three times per week to teach music in a school for underprivileged children.

“I see children that want to study or play an instrument, but they can’t because they have no money or they don’t have a teacher or the school is extremely far away. I want to help them,” Cirilo said. “I am convinced that children acquire values for life through music - values that help them achieve their dreams."

While continuing to teach and play music, Cirilo also graduated from high school, specializing in industrial electronics. At 19, he began work as a senior lecturer in music theory at the art and music conservatory in Luque.

“Nothing is impossible. We all have a dream. If we want to make it come true, we only have to work each and every day,” Cirilo said.

Cirilo’s work has not gone unnoticed. He recently won a competition to conduct the symphony orchestra of the National University of Ascunción. He was the youngest conductor in the competition. Cirilo is currently studying for a degree in music at the same university.

“Cirilo really inspires others. He has an entrepreneurial character, is a leader, has great talent and ability, but always shows a lot of humility that touches the hearts of the people he deals with,” Jose Ramirez, Village Director of SOS Children’s Village Luque, said.

>> See the other 2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award nominees