UGANDA: Band Helps At-Risk Discover, Expand Talents
(MissionNewswire) Missionaries with Don Bosco Children and Life Mission located in the town of Namugongo, just 10 miles northeast of the city of Kampala in Central Uganda, operate the Don Bosco Band for at-risk youth in the region. Music lessons were brought to the school nine years ago, when Salesian missionaries started a new initiative teaching a small group of students to play the trumpet. Many of the children attending the primary school wanted to learn and enrolled in the program. Soon a small class turned to more than 50 children.
The new music program was so successful that the number of musicians and the number of trumpets utilized increased until soon they were able to form a school band. Initially, the course was only on Sundays and lasted two hours. Some of the children that were learning the music liked it so much that they started to teach their friends the best way to play the trumpet. By the end of the school year so many students were learning that they were able to take part in a concert along with older and more experienced students.
As the students continued to make progress and their repertoire expanded, the band became increasingly skilled and other instruments were added. Today, the Don Bosco Band currently consists of a series of trumpets, trombones, tubas, a French horn, flutes, clarinets, drums, bass drums, cymbals and a saxophone. Salesian missionaries provide the instruments and the instruction as part of their overall educational program. The goal is for youth to develop their talents, gain self-confidence and enjoy the activity with their peers. The band is made up exclusively of students of the school and occasionally gives concerts to demonstrate the progress of the students.
“The Don Bosco Children and Life Mission is in a constant state of improvement to offer its students more diverse programming to help them discover and expand their talents,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The progress that many of the band members have made has allowed them to take on the challenge of learning to play additional instruments, which increases opportunities for students and the school to enhance the quality of the concerts, ensuring that the Don Bosco Music Band continues.”
Close to 67 percent of Ugandans are either poor or highly vulnerable to poverty, according to UNICEF. While the country has seen some economic growth as well as improvement in its Human Development Index ranking over the last 20 years, the country still ranks near the bottom at 163 out of 188 countries. After decades of war left many displaced, the people of Uganda face many significant challenges as they work to rebuild their country.
Uganda’s literacy rate has improved with 73 percent of the population literate but only 23 percent of Ugandans go on to acquire a secondary education. According to UNICEF, one of the biggest challenges in the country is combating the serious increase of HIV/AIDS that has left millions of children orphaned.
UNICEF – Uganda
(Photo courtesy ANS )