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

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs