Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back in Jerusalem, Final Notes and Numbers

That's it. On Sunday at 3.30 AM the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing landed, and 2 hours later we were back home in Jerusalem.

Almost everyone we met was very excited to hear that we come from Jerusalem, the holy city, but the best reaction goes to an eight-year-old orphan from SOS Children's Villages Entebbe who asked, “Were you there when Jesus got beaten up?”

We met so many wonderful people and organizations that do real significant and inspiring work. We are truly thankful for being able to work with so many different groups, and to learn so much from them. Rwanda and Uganda have many problems, but thanks to hardworking and motivated individuals there is a lot of hope in the air, and we have been blessed to meet some of these individuals.

Although we've been giving music workshops for several years now, we were again amazed to see the power of music. The way it can make people of all ages be free, happy, expressive, and creative, the way it can trigger emotions and encourage non-verbal dialogue and understanding, and the way it can heal.

We will finish with some numbers that best describe our trip:

2460 kilometers on the road (buses, cars, motors, and walking)
969 workshops participants (ages 3-70)
??? too many bananas
82 workshops
49 days
48 nights
14 cities and villages
9 hotels and guest houses
7 weeks
3 lakes
2 countries
1 organization to thank: Musicians without Borders

We would also like to thank Hivos for sponsoring this assessment trip to Africa, and for believing in MwB's work. Please support Musicians without Borders so these kind of projects can continue to happen.

Thank you for following our trip,


    Danny & Fabienne

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Empower African Children!

Youth during music workshops at Empower African Children's house
“Music has made me what I am. It has made me self-confident. I don't know where I would be today without music.”

This was said in the end of a two-days training workshop we gave at Empower African Children house. It was said by B, a teenager whose story appears in the book Transcendent Spirit: The Orphans of Uganda, a telling and mesmerizing account of text and photographs of Ugandan orphans (photographs: Douglas Menuez, text: Rachel Scheier). Here's a quote from B's story in the book:

On the night of March 2, 1998, rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army crept into the tiny Ugandan village of Pacho. They hacked 11 people to death with machetes and burned their huts to the ground. Thirty-eight children were orphaned. Among them, little B.

The LRA, a murderous insurgent group that has terrorized northern Uganda for more than 2 decades, is most infamous for kidnapping village children and transforming them into child soldiers and sex slaves. B, then 5, and the other children of Pacho, were spared that night only because they were sleeping on the floor of a school several kilometers away when the rebels attacked—a safety practice known locally as “night commuting”.

B and his older brother, N, got news of the attack as they walked back to the village the next morning. B's mother died when he was an infant, so he was particularly dependent upon his father. B and N watched with horror that day as their father and the other victims of the LRA attack were hurriedly buried in shallow graves.

We strongly recommend that you order the book to support the EAC project, by placing your order through the website of Empower African Children:

The 28 participants of the music training workshops that we gave at the EAC house welcomed us with a captivating performance of traditional African dance and music, which left us dumbstruck. During the workshops they proved to be so inspiring, talented and engaged, that we could really not hope for any better conclusion to our trip.
The girls performing for us
Empower African Children is a young, animated and vibrant organization which is set to provide a home and education to orphans and children at risk. They are currently building a school that will incorporate innovative forms of education, which will focus on students creativity, expression and preparation to real life.
The boys performing traditional dance, and drumming
The current group of children and youth at the EAC house have been traveling and performing traditional African music and dance, speaking about the situation in Uganda, their lives' stories, and giving workshops. From what we have seen and heard, they are absolutely extraordinary, and they want to give, and to teach others in their communities and other countries about the local culture and promote empowerment among other children and youth across the region.
Improvising with sticks
During the workshops, we improvised a lot, individually, in groups, and as a whole, and the vibe was so energetic and fun and musical, that everyone couldn't stop smiling and laughing. We promise to post videos when we come back to Jerusalem, but meanwhile use your imagination with the following audio bits:

Click here to listen to / download the traditional Ugandan song.

Click here to listen to / download the sticks improvisation  session.

Friday, September 3, 2010

SOS Stories and Wild Animals

Workshop with kids at SOS Children's Village Kakiri
The music workshops in Kakiri and Entebbe SOS Children's Villages were wonderful. The international organization SOS Children's Villages is celebrating 61 years of existence. In Uganda there are three villages in Gulu, Kakiri and Entebbe, home to 440 orphans or children at risk, and reaching 2500 children in the communities.
SOS Children's Village Entebbe
Check out their local websites:
Facebook: sosougandafriends
SOS Children's Villages Kakiri
Fabienne has developed a theory that links between the children's exposure to violence and their eagerness to carry our stuff around. The connection seems far-fetched, and it might be a statistical mistake, but until now the observation cannot be denied. In Gulu, kids even took and carried Fabienne's shoes and scarf. Maybe it has to do with their need for attention and affection.
SOS Children's Villages Entebbe
SOS Children's Villages Kakiri
Entebbe lies on the shores of lake Victoria which attracts countless species of birds and other animals, namely a giant bone-crushing human-eating spider.
An Ugandan spider on our way to work
Okay, so the spider is the size of your palm, but on first sight you would also believe it could eat you. Here is a collection of other wild animals we have encountered on our way walking to the music workshops:

And some more wildly adorable children during the workshops:

And the daily quiz: How's this weird animal called? Does it have any bird friends? And why was it punished with a 6kg worth of beak and forehead?