A vision for the future
Elgon Youth Brass Band, Mbale, Uganda
Fredrick Kyewalyanga couldn’t afford the stamps to post us the form applying for funding for a new brass band he wanted to start in the town of Mbale, eastern Uganda. He got someone travelling to London to deliver it by hand.
In the meantime, he scraped together instruments and began to set up his band. Thanks to a generous donation from The Girdlers' Company, Musequality was able to help him buy marching drums, two sousaphones and other instruments. We also helped cover staff costs and rent at the building acquired to house the players.
The band is making excellent progress and has given many concerts. They participated in the 2011 World Busk, and an audience in rain-soaked London was able to listen to their playing from sunny Mbale via a phone link-up. They have performed at weddings, conferences and trade shows as well as appearances on special occasions such as International Women’s Day and International Labour Day.
More than a hundred children and young people are now involved, which has created an urgent need for more instruments. Musequality is always seeking trumpets, tenor horns, euphoniums, baritones and trombones for the band.
In a bid to make the project more self-sustaining, part of EYBB’s budget is being invested in developing income-generating skills, including hairdressing and art and design work. Musequality is funding these activities through a grant made to us by a charity focused on helping disadvantaged children in Uganda find work.
‘Ever since Musequality started paying for the house where the needy/street children sleep now, life for these kids at Elgon Youth Brass Band has changed. No more sleeping on the streets. I wish you were here to see the joy they have now.’ Fredrick Kyewalyanga
Home from homeVolunteers heading out to Mbale in eastern Uganda to work with the project can now look forward to homely accommodation. EYBB’s income-generating activities have succeeded in raising enough funds for project leader Fredrick Kyewalyanga to rent a house for volunteers. Up to eight people can share the house for a tiny daily fee, sharing the cooking, cleaning and shopping and living as part of the EYBB family.
Elgon welcomes home Olympic heroThe band was proud to play a part in welcoming home Uganda’s Olympic marathon runner and new national hero, Stephen Kiprotich, who won gold at London 2012. It was Uganda’s first gold medal in 40 years, and only the second in its history.
The athlete was welcomed back to his home in the Kapchorwa district by crowds of people at a ceremony that included an enthusiastic performance by the band. EYBB were thrilled to meet their hero backstage, get a glimpse of the enormous gold medal and enjoy a one-on-one chat.
Lost boys find their familiesPart of the project's mission is to reunite street children with their families. In the summer of 2012, two young boys, Henery and Rogers, hoped to leave their street lives behind them for good when project leader Fredrick Kyewalyanga set off with them to find their homes.
This is not necessarily an easy task, and the children may not always be sure of their welcome. But on this occasion, undaunted by boggy roads, wary communities and unresponsive front doors, the party finally succeeded in reuniting Henery with his grandmother and Rogers with his mother.
Watch the film of their reunion.
Report from Uganda
Executive director Jeremy Bradshaw and trustee Jean Buck visited Musequality's projects in Uganda in December 2011 to find out how the children involved in our music schemes are progressing. They received a warm welcome from EYBB in Mbale and were treated to a special concert by the band. They also discussed various management issues with the projects and acquired much useful information in preparation for the 2012 grant award process. More
Support for Tadeo
Tadeo, a young quadruple amputee from the Good Shepherd Home in Kampala, has received prosthetic limbs to help him realise his dream of becoming a trombonist. In November 2011, Tadeo attended the hospital in Mbale where the International Committee of the Red Cross fitted him with new legs and a prosthetic arm. Tadeo was supported throughout by members of the Elgon Youth Brass Band.
EYBB promotes girl power
Girls are acquiring confidence and new skills thanks to EYBB’s skills-development programme. Tailoring and hairdressing activities have been enthusiastically taken up by girls, many of whom had dropped out of school. A ‘girl confidence club’ called Super Ladies has been introduced, where girls try their hand at activities usually associated with boys – such as tuba playing and conducting.
2011 was a difficult year for the band. In January, 16-year-old trombonist Rogers Washirwa died from an undiagnosed illness. In October, 15-year-old Bumba Sadart died of leukaemia, and just a few days later Asayo Morin, who worked as the band’s nanny, lost her battle with breast cancer. She was a widow who left behind eight children, some of whom are band members.
Despite these tragedies, Fredrick Kyewalyanga remains focused on fundraising and improving the quality of life for all the members of the band. He is currently working on getting children back in touch with their roots, and developing more effective outreach initiatives.