ARE not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” This is where we got the name Sparrow Music. Children in the slum community are like sparrows that may have low value in the eyes of others. But in the eyes of God, they are not forgotten!
In singing and playing an instrument, it is not enough to just produce a note but to develop the quality of the tone. It is the same way in growing children; one needs to develop them holistically. When we (Ferdi & Cindy) started in 2014, we assessed the children by asking them to tell something about themselves and their dreams through drawing. Most of the 50 children couldn’t draw and say what their dreams were. They didn’t have the confidence to tell because they were told that they could not dream high since they couldn’t afford it. The children were boxed in what they only see in their surroundings.
In our first year, the behavior of the students was a big problem. Almost every day there were fistfights, bullying, and cursing among them. There was a day when a young boy ran to me; he had a black eye and bruises from his mother. Another day, a young girl came to me, crying, with a black eye from her father. A four-year old girl went to me very tired and hungry; she was crying and she too had bruises on her face and body. Their behavior reflected the environment they have.
We responded to this problem through intentional mentoring. We related the music lessons into their real-life experiences. Music lessons teach us to be better listeners. Music teaches discipline. Sparrow Music trains the parents in imposing positive discipline without breaking the person’s self-esteem. We break the old belief that punishment is discipline. We enforce discipline with the goal of love, as these children need people who love them. Music teaches the children how to think critically. To support their education; we have a mini-library, computers, instructional materials, printers and we have volunteers to tutor them.
To combat and take them out of the cycle of poverty, we help the children grow physically by providing daily healthy lunch. We teach them good oral and body hygiene. We grow them emotionally by empowering them to make right choices for them to avoid illegal drugs and other illegal activities. We have performance classes and practice recitals to boost their confidence. For their spiritual development, we train them to be dependent on God!
Music gives the least fortunate children confidence that they have a chance for greater opportunities. We see them transform from lost to found; from having poor habits to having good habits, poor character to good character; mediocrity to striving to be better; beneficiaries to contributors. Children volunteers can now lead because they are given chances to lead. Sparrow Music children inspired others when ABSCBN made a documentary of our story and other news agencies like Rapper and Philippine Daily Inquirer. They have become an inspiration to many.
Today, volunteers and students are dreamers and hopeful that they can pursue a career. From the landfill practices, they have performed in UP College of Music, schools, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Ayala Museum and in corporate events. In September 2019, Sparrow Music Guitar Ensemble performed at the 2nd Cebu International Guitar Festival. The children had their first plane ride, stayed in a hotel, and met international and affluent patrons of guitar music.
It takes right notes and quality of tones to form beautiful melodies. We need right combinations of notes to form harmonies. The Sparrow Music children serve as the beautiful melody and the model of harmony in the community. These children are our instruments to change the tune in our society. (To be Continued)
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