The news is in and the news is good. Just before the deadline we were able to reach our goal of just under R45000.
Here’s a short version of the backstory… (if you know the story you may want to skip to the next section)
Beginnig with a single donation of the used trumpet St. Johns Apostolic Church began to dream. They raised money within the church and were able to acquire 7 brass instruments and 2 drums and the band was born.
Youth were invited from within the church and the surrounding community to join. At this time 22 youth are involved. They share instruments so that everyone gets a chance to learn and play. The band performs on Sunday mornings and for other special events around the village and other nearby villages and the particpants have formal practice two days a week but can often be found running from the school to the church to practice on other days of the week.
Why is this band-thing so important here in South Africa? South Africa struggles with the greatest number of people infected HIV/AIDS in the whole world. Here in the rural spaces opportunities for healthy habits are severely lacking. Children and youth run unsupervised, with few role models leading the way. Villages are often split as their young men and women leave to work in the cities in order to send money back for survival. Grandparents then become the primary caregivers, but their abilities are limited by mobility and levels of education. When children and youth lack positive role models they will experiment and sometimes fall into unhealthy decisions unwittingly. Sexual promiscuity and drugs and alcohol are all real problems here in the village that need proactive solutions.
The band provides a safe space where children and youth can come and hone skills, a space where they can find caring adults who help to guide decisions steering them away from potentially dangerous life choices and they can find positive life-giving support amongst their peers.
Where are we now?
As of two weeks ago I was able to set a meeting with the music store shop owner, Christa. A true kind heart who understands the power of music. Three pastors, two support members, one tuba player and myself headed up the delegation from the church. We sat down in the shop to has out the details. Christa was able to stretch our donated money to the limit and so we were able to purchase 11 new instruments including three trumpets, a pocket trumpet, a tuba, alto and baritone horn, a trombone, euphonium, a snare and a base drum.
We also had around R4000 that we set as store credit for the church use as seed money for their next instrument purchase. The plan had turned out better than we could have hoped.
With the instruments set to arrive in a week, Susie and I decided to make a visit to worship with the church and to see the band in action. As it turns out, there was a slight delay as we made a change in instrument brands to help stretch the cash a little further. So when Susie and I made it to the church the new instruments had not yet arrived. We however were able to take part in a beautiful worship service that featured the band as it was, which was tremendous fun and moved me to tears.
Here are a few images from the day.
The entire congregation went on a mini-parade around the community. Even Susie and I marched with the band.
The Band before the new instrumetns were added.
As of today, the instruments have arrived at the shop and the church was able to send members in to acquire them. Initially I was going to go in to see this transaction first hand but due to some communication issues this did not happen. I will, however, make my way back to the church on Monday to see the fruits of our labors.
Thank you to all who donated to Expand the Band. It was a joy to be involved. Our little project caught the eye of Peace Corps Washington DC and they put out a press release on thier web site. Words are also being passed back to the Seattle office so who knows you may just find this in the local paper someday soon.
Here’s the press release: Expand the Band Press Release
Cheers everyone and thanks again.