(Pictured above: Woodberson Seide plays the drums during service at a Protestant church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)
Earlier this month, the Associated Press featured Music Heals International in a story titled, “Haitian students play drums and strum guitars to escape hunger and gang violence.” Click here for the story on the Associated Press’s website, and read an excerpt below:
“When I play drums, I feel proud,” Woodberson said.
To many, Haiti feels hopeless. Children are mostly kept indoors for safety. Their parents worry about gangs recruiting children as young as 8.
Woodberson and other young musicians in a U.S.-sponsored music program refuse to let circumstances dictate their future, helping both themselves and their parents.
“Seeing my son performing makes me very happy,” said Jean Williams Seïde, his father.
Woodberson took his first lesson two years ago as part of the after-school music program founded in 2014 by U.S. nonprofit Music Heals International. The program started with 60 children and has grown into a group of 400 enrolled in the $160,000-a-year program offered at eight schools. Many play at church and in local concerts, some after founding their own band.
“It’s very rare … that you can provide a little bit of peace in such craziness, such a hellish landscape,” said Ann Lee, CEO and co-founder of Community Organized Relief Effort, a California nonprofit organization that sponsors the program.via Associated Press