Supporting ‘Brass for Africa’ in Uganda
Brass for Africa is a UK based charity which uses brass music and music education as a route out of poverty for Ugandan orphans, ex-street children and other vulnerable children and young people living in and around Kampala. Brass for Africa works closely with M-Lisada, which is a Ugandan orphanage and child support organisation, whose motto is ‘Music to the Rescue’. One unique feature of Brass for Africa’s work is that it trains and then employs local young people, themselves previous residents of the M-Lisada orphanage, as music teachers for its bands and outreach projects.
This summer Fiona Macdonald, Lecturer in Social Work in the School of Social Sciences, was able to spend some time in Kampala volunteering with both these organisations for the second year running. Her role this year involved assisting and supporting the team of young brass teachers, and getting to know the various outreach projects. This then allowed her to contribute to planning monitoring and evaluation systems for the charity, alongside the local Brass for Africa Country Manager, Rebecca Richards. The charity has expanded considerably over the last eighteen months, and moved onto a more professional footing, with the intention of accessing larger grants to support its developing work. This requires the establishment of structured systems for evaluating outcomes for children, as international grant making organisations require clear evidence about the impact of the projects they fund. In particular, Fiona was able to contribute ideas and knowledge about measuring and evaluating soft outcomes for children, such as impact on concentration, self-esteem and social skills.
During her time in Kampala, Fiona was also able to offer training to the organisation’s young teachers and trainee teachers. This summer she conducted a training evening on professional behaviour outside work, which included managing alcohol consumption and exploring sexual consent, in response to a need identified by Brass for Africa. The session was based on using drama and group activities to explore behaviour, addressing a serious subject in a non-confrontational way – this worked well in allowing the young people to discuss issues openly. Fiona is planning to return to Kampala again in summer 2017, with a programme of training and support activities planned in advance to make the best possible use of her time there.
Anyone who is interested in the work of Brass for Africa or M-Lisada, or would like to make a donation, can find out more on their websites: www.brassforafrica.org and www.mlisada.org . For film lovers, the newly released Disney docu-film ‘Queen of Katwe’ offers an excellent opportunity to find out more about the slum community nearby where Brass for Africa is based. The film is based on a real life story of a child from the slum, who learns to play chess and becomes a champion. Released in the UK in October 2016, this story is one example of how investment in education and support for children in deprived and disadvantaged communities can make a difference – not just to the occasional champion but to all the children who gain skills and motivation through these opportunities. Brass for Africa and M-Lisada are doing much the same thing, but with a focus on music and arts.
Publication date: 21 October 2016