Get to Know Our Partner: Living Music Foundation
We had the chance to hold a virtual interview with Disan Kato Tusiime, the Director of the Living Music Foundation. Check out his interview to learn more about the Living Music Foundation, how music changes lives in their communities, and how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected LMF.
1. What are the fundamental values and beliefs of the Living Music Foundation?
At Living Music Foundation, we believe that once shared;
- Music has the transformative power to make a person be what the community never thought.
- Music spreads love and happiness to the individual and communities.
- Music teaches, educates, and produces a positive life.
- Music gives financial benefits to an individual and to a community.
- Learning a musical instrument improves discipline, develops a sense of responsibility in an individual, and builds self-esteem in a person.
- Learning music has been proved to improve the academic capabilities of students in school
2. Can you share a story of an individual whose life has been changed because of your organization?
Malcolm could not continue with formal school education. He was recruited into our program by Masheruka Archdeaconry church. He trained with us on two separate occasions for 4 weeks, two weeks of which he trained with our Israel Volunteer Noam Treves. Kanyeganyegye Church of Uganda later employed him as the main keyboard and machines person. He has played and performed with the Vessels Band twice this year as a backup keyboard player behind Disan Kato.
3. Can you tell us about the Music Lessons for Disadvantaged Youth Program?
Living Music Foundation offers lessons to fee-paying students, people, or groups at the office. All proceeds from the Disadvantage Youth Program are used to go to communities that have youths and children who have a desire to learn music but do not have access to trainers and equipment. We camp in the community for 4 days every week for a period agreed with the community leaders who contact us. These leaders help to mobilize meals and accommodation while we are there. Living Music Foundation takes care of the transportation and facilitation of the staff while training.
We typically bring our equipment in our minivan. In addition, sometimes we advise these communities to mobilize and buy equipment for these children before we train them. In some cases, we use the Vessels band to perform to encourage community leaders to help in getting this equipment. This is to organized communities like compassion centers, churches, and primary schools with such people.
We have also received requests from guardians, caretakers, and sometimes parents to give lessons to children individually but we ask them to provide their own accommodation and meals in Mbarara and we train them from the office every day. Only a few have managed this. We hope we can build our own place and be able to accommodate them during the time of their lessons.
4. What is the importance of the program for disadvantaged youth in Uganda?
The program gives purpose to the lives of disadvantaged youth and children. Life comes to them in a new way and with new meaning. I am always moved by the expressions on the faces of these children during and after taking these lessons. One thing I have witnessed after training is that many students act like their eyes were blind and now are open. They always follow up with us to finish their courses, or we see their parents/guardians contact us to help and find absorption points for the children because they can’t afford to keep them home anymore with the potentials they have discovered. This shows me that the program helps them find a purpose for their lives.
5. What are you hoping to achieve in response to COVID-19?
We hope to provide an alternative to the normal school calendar for the remaining 6 months of the year. We (the community) are experiencing a lot of immorality among the youth, teenage pregnancies among girls, domestic violence, and child abuse currently because many children and youths are home with literally nothing to do, only TV and movies uncontrollably. Very few afford online academic lessons. Learning a musical instrument is one of the alternatives that can keep these people busy learning and practicing.
In fact, one parent rented our keyboard in order for his son to be able to learn and practice chords during the 42 days of lockdown. He had started lessons with us at Living Music Foundation for two weeks before lockdown. I walk there once a week to give him lessons.
6. What are your most important concerns to help the communities affected by coronavirus?
Children are missing school. They need options. We need to increase our capabilities to help them. Children/youth need to acquire other vocational skills like making liquid soap, designing, weaving, knitting, etc. We would love to be able to incorporate these important life skills at the Living Music Foundation. Many people have lost their jobs and have less or no income at all. We will have more poor people in the near future and realize it is important for Living Music Foundation to offer the needed skills to help individuals learn how to build a better future.
We’re eager to help Living Music Foundation reach their goals, overcome the challenges brought on by COVID-19, and expand their reach to help even more children in Uganda. Learn more about their current projects and their mission by visiting their partner page.