What a great trip!
MWH Director Samite Mulondo, along with Ithaca-based musician Nate Silas Richardson spent two weeks in August visiting communities, centers and people in Uganda and Kenya. We are so grateful for the rich experience, opportunity to work with teachers and children, and develop new partnerships for the future.
Our first stop was at Hope North in northern Uganda, where we worked with about 25 youth, many who are former child soldiers. We also visited with children at Hope for Humans in Gulu, where MWH has worked before to provide music therapy to children affected by Nodding Syndrome, a neurological disease that produces seizures and impedes growth. The children are very weak, often malnourished when they arrive, but after 3 to 4 months of nurturing, begin playing, running and beginning to learn. After that, music therapy programs help them further. Samite and Nate, along with Dr. Karen Wacks, of the Berklee College of Music, worked with the program leaders on music therapy techniques they could keep using after we left.
From there, we visited and worked with people at Health Care Alliance in Lira and Brain Tree Primary School, and then in Kenya we visited Shangilia orphanage and The Nest Home. It was a very full two weeks, very rich in experience and we continue to be grateful to our donors who made it possible.
Dr. Bill Thomas, whose wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging, interviewed Nate Richardson for his podcast, the Ask Dr. Bill show. You can hear the experience in Nate's words here, told in two parts, Episode 7 and Episode 8.
People in caring environments do better, encounter less suffering from their disabilities than those without care, nurturing and supportive experiences like music. We worked with hundreds of people across this two week span, many individually and others in groups. We were thanked and told, repeatedly, how helpful the programming and teachings will be for future groups, in addition to the impacts we saw during the sessions. We learned much from the people we met, and look forward to using the exeperiences inform our work with seniors, children and refugees here in the U.S. in the months to come.