Walking down Guatemalan streets lined by cinderblock homes with iron sheet roofs, you might not expect to hear the warm, deep tones of a cello playing Bach or the sometimes accompanying lilt of a violin. But, most evenings, if you visit Carlos’ neighborhood, that’s exactly what you’ll hear.
“Do you feel poor?”
That’s how Henry Flores, director of the Unbound communications center in El Salvador, began his conversation with Ashley, a sponsored 15 year old from Costa Rica.
A difficult question to ask; an even tougher one to answer.
How could a teenager living in a poor community behind one of the largest shopping malls in the area, where she and her mother, Juana, can only see the walls that hide their reality from the beauty and fantasy of the department stores, answer a question like that?
By Barclay Martin, new channels coordinator for Unbound
It is an outlandish thing to make your living as a singer/songwriter, and one of the lessons it taught me early was that in order to make it, you have to hustle.
You have to release the notion that just because a morning of coffee and scratching in a notebook renders a song the world is compelled to respond. There’s a brawn to art, the idea that beneath the lustrous promise of a new creation there is muscle and metal driving it. With each release, there is a constant chirping in my brain, beckoning people to pay attention for a moment to what I’m doing. It is a daily battle for a sliver of presence in a world more infinitely layered than we could ever know.
By Barclay Martin, new channels coordinator
I met Mamisoa at the Unbound-Madagascar central office while he was helping out with an event for aging members of the Unbound community. He’s studying earth sciences and wants to work to improve the water quality for people in Madagascar. He was introduced as one of the scholarship recipients. Unbound scholarships are funded by donations to Education. Luckily, I had a chance to pose some questions to Mamisoa.
Q. Why did you apply for an Unbound scholarship?
By Barclay Martin, new channels coordinator
For those compelled to think that people who live in poverty have nothing but their need to offer the world, I might begin by offering them the example of the extraordinary group, Migasy. This ensemble of musicians from the Unbound Madagascar community has developed a sophisticated sound with thoughtful messages. Messages that move humanity forward. These are engaged people who, amidst struggle, have committed themselves to creating works of art.
As they played song after song for us, I thought about the instruments that they played — some of them borrowed, some of them held together with rubber bands and plastic. These are the stories that don’t come through the music at first listen. They must be told. So should the very fact that they shared their music with us so others might have opportunity to go to school through Unbound scholarships. They were proud to do it.
As we recorded, the spirit in the room was of generosity. For each of the artists in Migasy, the desire to grow as musicians and offer something of substance moves them forward. For my part, I simply felt lucky to be in the presence of beautiful artists who had managed to do so much with so little.
It is the best of our human spirit set to music. It’s their gift to us.
Learn more about Voices of Unbound: Madagascar at unbound.org/music.
Recently our resident musician and new channels coordinator, Barclay Martin, traveled to Madagascar. While there he collaborated with members of the Unbound community to record songs that are unique to the Malagasy people. Through instrument and song, the Voices of Unbound: Madagascar CD tells a story that leaves the listener with a sense of the gifts, capacities and cultures of the people with whom we work.
Watch this video to learn more:
Want a copy of the CD? Check out unbound.org/music for more information.
By Paul Pearce, director of global strategy for Unbound
Visiting sponsored members’ homes is one of the highlights of an Unbound Awareness Trip. On a recent trip to Nicaragua, sponsors were treated to a special musical performance at one home.
By Jordan Kimbrell, Unbound writer/editor
Music is what moves us. We live our whole lives with rhythm around and inside us; from the beating of our hearts to the traffic outside an office window.
One of our co-founders showed this throughout his life. Bob Hentzen was always just a breath away from a song, and I rarely saw him without a guitar nearby.
Music has always been an important part of the communities and cultures served by Unbound.
In Bogota, Colombia, 30 sponsored children take part in a music class and learn about the importance of music.
By Veronica Lay, CFCA Sponsor Services
Imagine complete darkness, a life without sight where it is necessary to depend on other senses and other people for help.
This is the life of Milton, a young boy who lives in Guatemala, in the small town of El Rodeo.
Milton sings during a 2010 CFCA mission awareness trip to Guatemala. His mother is holding the microphone for him.
Milton, 11, was born with cancer in his right eye. He underwent surgery to have that eye removed.
Less than one year later, the family learned that the cancer had spread to Miltonís other eye. The only option was to remove it as well.
Left untreated, the cancer could have spread to his brain, and he could have died.
Though he lost both eyes at an early age, Milton has some memories of sight.
ìI could not see much with my left eye, but I did see the moonlight,î Milton said.
After his second surgery, Milton went through eight painful chemotherapy treatments. He became thin, frail and lost all his hair.
The only other person to experience as much pain was Miltonís mother, Ana, who found it extremely difficult to see her son suffer without being able to help him.
ìI thought he was going to die,î Ana said. ìI had to be strong. Öî
Thankfully, Miltonís cancer was treated successfully, but now, he had to face the prospect of living with blindness.
Milton jams with musicians on an accordion during the mission awareness trip.
On Miltonís fourth birthday, his life was changed forever by a small toy piano his grandfather purchased for him.
Interested in music, Milton started learning to play the piano by listening to the instrument during church. Milton enjoyed playing the piano. When he turned 6, ìthe music started to flow.î
Milton is interested in many instruments and he also likes to sing in church. He has learned how to play the accordion, and, his favorite instrument, the drums.
During a mission awareness trip in August 2010, Milton had the opportunity to showcase his talents.
He told the audience about his condition and his passion for music. His mother was on stage with him, helping with instruments and encouraging him with her presence.
Ashley Boone, a CFCA Sponsor Services representative, witnessed Miltonís musical abilities during the trip. Ashley said that Miltonís performance was remarkable because of the relationship that he and his mother shared.
Milton reads in Braille.
ìYou just knew that she was very involved in his passion for music,î Ashley said. ìThe love his mother displayed for Milton was written all over her face.î
Milton and his family are grateful for the support they have received in the CFCA Hope for a Family program for the past four years.
Sponsorship enables Milton to go to school in his village and attend a special school every other weekend, where he is learning to read Braille. He hopes to become a music teacher one day.
ìI thank God for touching so many hearts of good and generous people that have helped me up to this day,î he said.
Through sponsorship, this young boy was able to find a positive outlet through music. Milton may be blind, but he does not need sight to make his music come alive.
Wow, what a show!
At last night’s CD release concert, Barclay Martin Ensemble, joined by the talents from the Filipino Cultural Center of the Filipino Association of Greater Kansas City, moved some audience members to tears with their performances. The concert was the official release of the music from the documentary, Zamboanga: Poverty, War, Music. If you were unable to attend, please don’t despair: below are some pictures of the event, and the CD is available on the Zamboanga Web site. Enjoy!
Getting ready for the concert
Concert-goers waiting for the doors to open
The Sampaguita Choir performed with Barclay Martin Ensemble
Barclay Martin Ensemble
A special performance by the Sinag-Tala Dance Troupe
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