Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Circle is Closed as New Guitar is Delivered to School in Zambia

When head teacher Madame Mwanza learned that a Bridges of Peace and Hope delegation from the American International School of Lusaka (AISL) would be coming to present Mr. Jannack Mahachi with a guitar she began making preparations to mark the occasion. She called the local television station, got out a special white table covering, and had some of the students prepared to do performances to thank the group from the school. Pictured above is Mr. Mahachi with his new guitar. He is a blind teacher at the school. The guitar was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Kerry Bidder, Canadian teachers at the International School in Lusaka. The funds to purchase the guitar were raised by students in Mr. Ken Buescher's Fourth Grade Class in Danbury, Connecticut, USA, nearly half a world away.

Mr. Buescher's students learned about Prince Takamado School while reading the October 22 entry in this blog. After Mr. Buescher read the entry, which tells about a blind music teacher at a school of over 2000 students that doesn't have any musical instruments except a few drums, one of Mr. Buescher's students said, "Let's buy a guitar for that teacher." It was decided that for the gift of the guitar to have the most meaning the students would have to work to earn the money rather than asking their parents or others for donations. They did jobs like raking leaves, babysitting, and helping with chores around their houses. In less than a week they had raised over $200, enough to purchase the guitar. Using email and Skype teleconferencing Kate Bidder told me of a plan she had to get the guitar. Kate is a Grade 1 teacher, who is also doing a BoPH PenPal project with Cheryl Arnett's Class in Colorado in the USA. Kate and I met when she helped organize music workshops that I did when I visited their school in October. Kate and her husband Kerry run a summer music camp in Zambia and are strong supporters of music, building bridges and community service projects. They were the perfect connection for this project.

The photos below show some of the students from AISL teaching sign language to the song Love Grows to the students at Prince Takamado School. When the AISL delegation started to sing "We Are Walking a Bridge of Peace," all the the students from PT School joined in with them immediately. Kate said both groups were thrilled to see that they knew the same song and that the music had definitely built a bridge. Unfortunately the program was cut short when the heavens opened up and heavy rainfall came down. We hope that the presentation of the guitar is just one phase of an ongoing partnership between Prince Takamado School, American International School of Lusaka, and other Bridges of Peace and Hope Classrooms in the US. Several packages of Pen Pal letters were delivered to the school in October and we are awaiting return letters now. Thanks to the Bidder Family, Mr. Buescher's Class, Richard Lungu, Madame Mwanza, Mr. Mahachi and all who helped make this possible.

The boys below from Prince Takamado School are intently watching and following along as they learn to sing in sign language. Maybe one of these boys will one day learn to play guitar on the new guitar Mr. Mahachi now has.