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

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid