ANGOLA: Salesian Missionaries Provide Music Education for Disadvantaged Youth
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Angola are using music education as a way to enhance social and academic development for disadvantaged youth through the Don Bosco Band. Based in Lixeira, one of the poorest areas within the capital city of Luanda, the band is made up of youth who attend Salesian schools in towns and villages in and around Luanda. In 2012, the band accompanied relics of Don Bosco as they were presented at local Salesian houses and programs. Today, the Don Bosco Band is preparing to celebrate the Bicentenary of the Saint of Youth.
Salesian Brother Andrés Randisi helps to run the Don Bosco Sambizanga School in Luanda and oversees the Don Bosco Band. The band is just one of many programs offered at the school. Brother Randisi began his work with the band in 2008 and through the years has captured the attention of many youth who have discovered their passion for music. Currently, more than 80 students take music lessons and participate in the Don Bosco Band.
Organized band activities have replaced idle time when students would browse the internet or loiter in markets or on the streets with little to do. The band brings much needed structure to the students’ lives as well as teaching valuable concepts like teamwork and collaboration. Participants become an integral part of the band’s larger community and find purpose in working together toward a common goal.
“If Brother Andrés had not introduced me to the trumpet, my life today would be totally different today. I discovered my passion for music that day in that meeting with Brother Andrés,” says one student in the Don Bosco Band.
The band has more than 95 instruments available. Students are able to choose the instrument they are most interested in and receive lessons, play the instrument in recitals and other events and build relationships with like-minded peers.
“When we put a musical instrument in human hands and one can see how you can express feelings through it, a child changes both inside and out,” says Bro. Randisi. “They find the hidden treasure they didn’t know they had and have a sense of security. In addition, a student’s self-confidence grows, their personality matures and they all have big smiles. All happening because of a musical instrument.”
Salesian missionaries in Angola have long been providing services to at-risk and disadvantaged youth to help them get off the streets, gain access to education and better nutrition and find a path out of poverty. The Don Bosco Band project provides Angolan youth another opportunity to better their lives through education.
The people of Angola are still recovering from a civil war that ended 13 years ago. During the war, educational disparities were widespread but recent reforms have paved the way for more youth to have better access to education and social equality. According to UNICEF, more than 36 percent of the population lives in poverty. In addition, more than one in 10 children under the age of 14 has lost one or both parents and 43,000 are separated from their families. As a result, nearly a third of these youth are working and child trafficking has been an emerging problem in the country.
With a 67 percent illiteracy rate, the educational opportunities provided by Salesian programs can be truly life changing. Through these programs, both youth and adults have access to schools and educational programs. Classes range from simple lessons in reading and writing for adults in refugee camps to shelter and education for street children. Students are also able to access life skills training, workforce development opportunities and nutritional programs.
UNICEF – Angola