We've had some people ask us about some of our perks, so we just wanted explain them in depth for you.
Safe Water - Water is something we took for granted until we attended a WASH Gala in March. The gala was held to raise funds and awareness by FACE Africa, a non-profit which builds wells in Liberia. There are many non-profits which solely devotes their mission for this agenda, which shows how important and complex this issue is. "350 million people in Africa are affected every day because they do not have access to safe water. 2 million people die every year due to water-borne diarrheal diseases, mot of the children under the age of 5." (www.faceafrica.org) Women and children, who often are designed the role of fetching the water each day, must walk many miles to and from the water points, often on dangerous roads. This decreased the time they have available for education, as well as child care and other activities.
For these reasons, it's important that our program includes a clean water initiative, regardless of if we reach our goal or not.
Meals - When we were working with the orchestra members, we realized that we were the only people on the premise eating lunch. The musicians would buy us lunch, sit with us, and make pleasant conversation with us, but nobody ate, nobody drank. It took us a few days to realize this fact, which made us want to eat with them instead! Providing meals will not only increase the availability and focus of the musicians, but it will also lead to community development. We learned so much and built so many stronger relationships when we shared meals around the table on our last day with a few of the members from the orchestra.
Commission a Piece! - We met Honore Diakuna on our first day, when he offered to translate our lessons for us. (read more about his translation skills here). He studied Composition in China for 6 years, speaks English and French, and plays the Trombone. More importantly, he is a kind and gentle friend. We will never forget, how on the last day of our workshop, while all the other members of the orchestra hugged us and took many pictures with us, he stayed off to the side, smiling shyly and staying away from the camera, all the while continuing to translate everything we said. Finally, when we tried to put our arms around him, he smiled meekly and politely refused, before he gave us the warmest hug, quietly saying, "OK, we can hug." He spent his days running back and forth, ,translating for both of us all day long. He was besides both of us at all times.
During our break, Honore played us many of his compositions. He has hundreds! In many different styles. We respect him a lot, because he has so much thirst to learn and develop. He wants to be a better musician, a better composer, a better english speaker, even though he is quite exceptional already. He remains humble and generous, and with your help, he can blossom even more as an artist!
Fly in Musicians to New York - The musicians are already getting some wonderful experiences abroad through different sponsors, such as BBC and WDR. What WE can do differently, is provide them the opportunities they crave most - music lessons with first class musicians, and opportunities to go listen, and have personal contacts with the world's finest musicians. Being musicians ourselves, we understand the importance of the personal connections, which can sometimes be even more inspiring than the lessons themselves. Though we would operate on a much smaller scale, the musicians would go back to Kinshasa not only remembering the great musicians they met, but will return to Kinshasa feeling more encouraged and inspired, which will lead them to becoming even better mentors and teachers for the students they teach.
- Kaori & Nana