Friday, December 6, 2013

Let's start a band!

Imagine a world without health insurance, without dentists, without swimming lessons, without art teachers, and without music classes. Most all of the people in our Moroccan community do not have these things. Things that we as Americans oftentimes take for granted. Imagine an elementary school without a music teacher to play the piano while children sing aloud. Imagine a middle school without a choir director who is also a mentor. Imagine a high school without a marching band to inspire team spirit. Imagine a world without the opportunity to start your first rock band with your friends. Imagine a world where there is no after school programming for the youth, no hangout places for girls, and no outlet for creativity. Now imagine a Peace Corps Volunteer making a difference in his community with the help of his family and friends.

Over the past year and a half Aire has worked hard to build a music program for the youth of our community. And with the help of so many people, he has been able to make it a reality. Every week our youth center is not only filled with youth inspired by music, but also with high school teachers, elementary school teachers, and even the nurses from the hospital (the one without a doctor) who come to Arie for lessons in order to become music teachers in the future. Well, maybe the nurses come for lessons just because they think Arie is cute??? I don't know, but I bet they really just want to learn music! Ultimately Arie and his work have inspired a whole community.

Sometimes a community needs more than a music teacher. It needs funding and resources to build a music program – one that is sustainable for years to come. And thanks to our family and friends Aire was able to create a grant to fund the purchase of musical instruments with the ambition to build a sustainable music program (we only have 6 months left of service - Arie will not be teaching music here indefinitely).

We traveled to Marrakech with our youth center director to purchase musical instruments and accessories/equipment with the grant funds. This process took 6 hours from start to finish. Prices needed to be determined, an invoice needed to be written up, products needed to be selected, colors needed to be chosen. Then after the transaction, everything needed to be packed up and taken out of the old medina and over to the bus station. Together we rode the bus home, and as soon as the items were delivered to the youth center, kids were knocking on the door. They were anxious and excited to see their new musical instruments. This was a big deal for them!

We put together a little unveiling ceremony on Saturday evening. The youth came to help unpack the instruments and lay everything out. Then our director gave a speech. Everyone applauded and thanked Arie, but they also applauded and thanked YOU – those of you who donated to make this possible.

This music program will enrich the youth and the community for years to come. This program will build skills and develop assets for not only the youth but also their teachers. This program and all of Arie's hard work will have a lasting impact and long term benefits. Thank you so much for your investment in our Peace Corps community!

The original stock of music equipment. Much of it was in disrepair, but Arie has been working to fix things.

We went to Bob Music in Marrakech to purchase the goods.
Bob Music is named after Bob Marley. Many Moroccan's love his music!
Arie testing out a banjo in the 'warehouse' of Bob Music.
Our youth center director, the shop keeper, and Arie.
The new instruments on display - we also got a music stand which was immediately put to good use!
Acoustic guitars, banjos, an electric guitar, and an electric bass were added to the youth center's collection.
Arie showing off one of the mics and the accessories.
A BIG THANK YOU to those who donated!

“Music is about communication, creativity, and cooperation, and by studying music in schools, students have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives, and experience the world from a new perspective.”
– Bill Clinton

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