News / Africa

Brass Band Provides Hope for Kampala Street Kids

The children living at M-lisada practice their instruments every day, Kampala, Uganda, Oct. 11, 2013. (VOA/Hilary Heuler)
The children living at M-lisada practice their instruments every day, Kampala, Uganda, Oct. 11, 2013. (VOA/Hilary Heuler)
After hearing a school band practice, a group of street kids in 1990s Uganda set up a brass band of its own called M-lisada.  Today the band's original founder runs a home for street kids, teaching them to play instruments and perform in concerts and becoming a source of pride for kids who had lost all hope.

Seventeen-year-old Derick Tamale does not know how old he was when he lost his parents and his home.  As far as he can remember he spent his whole childhood on the streets of Kampala, running with a group of other boys, living by stealing and picking food out of the trash.

“It was a miserable life, because I didn’t have a home.  When it came to night, [there was] nowhere you could sleep.  We only slept on the verandas.  Sometimes we got food from the rubbish, and then sometimes we’d go to big hotels like Serena, where they throw things that are not so good to sell to people, like cakes.”

But then one day he discovered music, and his life changed forever.

Derick happened to see a brass band called M-lisada playing in the slums.  The group is made up entirely of former street kids, and their concerts help finance the orphanage where they live.  Derick joined them and is now an accomplished trombone player, eager to talk about music with everyone he meets.

Bosco Segawa with two of the former street kids at his orphanage in Kampala, Uganda, Oct. 25, 2013. (VOA/Hilary Heuler))Bosco Segawa with two of the former street kids at his orphanage in Kampala, Uganda, Oct. 25, 2013. (VOA/Hilary Heuler))
x
Bosco Segawa with two of the former street kids at his orphanage in Kampala, Uganda, Oct. 25, 2013. (VOA/Hilary Heuler))
Bosco Segawa with two of the former street kids at his orphanage in Kampala, Uganda, Oct. 25, 2013. (VOA/Hilary Heuler))
Bosco Segawa, M-lisada’s founder, understands the feeling.  He grew up as a street kid himself, but discovered music when he was 12 and chanced upon a school band playing a concert.  When he saw all the parents clapping, he says, he was hooked.

“In slums people don’t appreciate children, even if children try and try, it’s very hard," Segawa said. "So it was my first experience to see [that] people could appreciate the children because of music.  From that time, I thought maybe I could become a musician so that one day people could appreciate me.”

With the help of a music teacher, Segawa and a few friends learned to play on secondhand instruments, eventually scraping together some funding to rent a small house and start a band.

Over the years, he says, music has transformed their lives.

“All of them were not perfect musicians, but they discovered what they could do.  One is a lawyer, two are businessmen, one is a mechanic, one is a social worker who works with me, and one is an expert in education," he said. "I’m not a professional musician, but I’m a teacher who teaches young kids.”

For the 80 kids in his orphanage, Segawa hopes that music will help them discover their potential as well.

Godfrey Mboira, a volunteer music teacher, says that on a more basic level, being in a band helps former street kids build confidence and feel like valued members of a team.

“It empowers them and they will do what people don’t expect them to do," said Mboira.  "And then at the end of it they feel they are appreciated.  At at least every performance they say, ‘well done, well done.’  That’s the most important thing these children have been missing all those years on the streets.”

The children at M-lisada all go to school, but after class every day they practice for upcoming concerts.

For Derick, it is one of the best parts of the day.  He says playing the trombone makes him feel important.  And if it were not for the band, he says, he does not know what would have become of him.

“I think I would maybe be dead by this time. Because on the street everyday I would see my friends dying, using drugs and then they end up dying.  Maybe I would have been in jail, somewhere working as a prisoner, or maybe just a useless person on the street.  Music is the one which is making me to be where I am now.  It is really a thing which rescued me," said Derick.

But he is one of the lucky ones. The orphanage is small, with no more than three bedrooms. Thousands of children are still living on the streets.  Many come during the day to rest and listen to the music.

But when night falls, they melt back into the shadows of the city.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid