SMF at East Belfast Mission–Awesome!!
August 1, 2012 | By wickley wickley
I need to apologize for my inconsistent blogging. I’m often so busy “putting out fires” that I don’t get to do the regular things that I need to be doing.
I posted about one of the centers hosting our Northern Ireland “Peace Through Music” program awhile ago and meant to post about the others right away. So this post will be about one of the other great centers.
EAST BELFAST MISSION (EBM) is a really amazing community organization. They are Protestant, and have been around for a long time, running programs such as soup kitchens, an alcohol rehabilitation center, women’s groups, youth groups, unemployment programs, counseling, and pretty much anything that their surrounding community needs. I really love this organization. The minute you step into their building you can see (and feel) how many people are being helped. The neighborhood where they are located has many murals, such as this one.
We started training sessions with local staff and volunteers in October, and classes with the children in November. In April we brought together the children from East Belfast Mission (Protestant) with the children from An Droichead (Catholic) and It was a great success. From the very first class, the children loved being together.
Because the EBM children had been in classes for a longer time than the An Droichead children, they were more advanced and they all helped teach the children from An Droichead. It was amazing to watch, and the children from both centers became great friends that first day.
They also traveled to St. Vincent de Paul (SVP), one of the centers in our program which has very limited funding and no transportation, so that the Catholic children at SVP could participate in cross-community music classes with them. We sang, played drum, and played harmonica. It was awesome.
The EBM children practiced and became incredibly good on the harmonica as well as singing. They were leaders in the cross-community classes and the concert. Before the concert they each filled out a survey about their experience with the music classes and in the survey they all stated that they want to continue the program in the fall and bring friends to join the class. They also wrote comments such as, “I’ve had so much fun”, “It is so fun I would never want to leave”, “I love the teachers”, “It has changed my life about music”, and “It’s amazing. I love it!”
Over half of the children said that the music program had changed their thoughts and feelings about Catholics.
I really love these kids, as well as the truly amazing adult volunteers who taught with me and without me while gone.
These volunteers worked really hard to make this program work for the children, and I am so grateful for them.
I hope we can keep East Belfast Mission involved in the Peace Through Music Northern Ireland program for a long time to come!