I have been a long time peace activist and worked with disadvantaged and vulnerable people of all stripes my entire life. This, I combined with artistic pursuits to give me a certain balance.
20 years ago I worked as a ‘Passive Recreational Tutor’ at a Juvenile Justice Centre, teaching pottery. This is where I first witnessed Music therapy, I often sat all night watching over an open dorm, where a young man wore headphone’s to bed to help calm him as he fell asleep to music.
In April, 2014, I was part of a Peace Pilgrimage to Syria delivering 2 tonnes of Medical Aid to the people suffering in this strife torn country. During this visit I again witnessed the power of music when visiting internal refugee camps in Syria. I encouraged my son to take his guitar and play. The music crossed all age boundaries, old women danced, children joined in and laughter and clapping rang out with the music. Raising the funds to deliver instruments to Afghanistan is my latest endeavour, this money will also go towards music teachers. I will be travelling to Afghanistan in May to this end. All my travel costs will be paid for by me and will not come out of the instrument fund. All funds will go toward instruments, tutors and school infrastructure needed.
The benefits for a child learning an instrument are bountiful. A music education can help with PTSD, create synapses in the brain that facilitate all areas of learning. Playing an instruments is the only human activity that uses both hemispheres of the brain enhancing problem solving skills and music can lift children out of both financial poverty and poverty of the soul.
All monies raised will go towards instruments and tutors. To kick start this, instruments will be distributed to street kids in Kabul, who are participating in an education program with the Afghan Peace Volunteers. I have the great hope that this program can be expanded. How far it is dependent on your generosity and reaching the first milestone of $10,000.
There is a shortage of instruments in Afghanistan due to the Taliban’s ban on music. Instruments were often used for firewood or blown up. Apart from the therapeutic and educational aspects of learning to play an instrument, it is important to maintain Afghanistan’s cultural heritage, of which music was a vibrant part.
If my intended goal is not reached any money raised will still go towards instruments for Afghanistan. In order to be successful I need your help in disseminating this programme, whether you are able to donate or not, within your Social Media networks.
The children of Afghanistan have lived lives most in the West could never image. In Kabul there is an estimated 60,000 – 80,000 odd street kids. Apart from the benefits outlined above there is the sheer joy of music and Afghan children certainly need more joy in their lives. There will be hurdles in this programme but with the help of many talented friends involved in the peace movement, human rights and education in Afghanistan, I have every faith any hurdles with be overcome.
Let the music begin!
For updates and extra information regarding the benefits of music to children and Afghan traditional instruments https://www.facebook.com/InstrumentsforTraumatisedAfghanKids