LITA Workshop in Making a Strumstick (Final Update 25May2015)

25 May 2015 –

(If you are visiting for the first time, please scroll down to the start, the ‘6 May 2015’ entry below)

Staying by Lake Victoria, flying out from Uganda this evening. This is the last blog entry that we’ll be doing about the strumstick workshops.

The 2nd course begins with 8 boys from CCDO in the community of Buyobo, accompanied by their young woman teacher.

Bern teaching the names and purposes of the tools.

Bern demonstrating the first step gluing on the tail piece.

Bern demonstrating the first step.. gluing on the tail piece.

 

The 2nd course begins with 8 boys from CCDO – Community Child Development Orphanage – in the community of Buyobo, accompanied by their young woman teacher.

 

 

 

 

Everyone worked hard all morning.

Everyone worked hard all morning.

 

 

 

 

 

Mzee cooking lunch for the crowd.

Mzee cooking lunch for the crowd.

 

 

 

Serving lunch.. beans and rice, the favorite meal.

Serving lunch.. beans and rice, the favorite meal.

 

 

 

 

 

Coming in for lunch

Coming in for lunch.

 

 

 

 

We were amazing about how much the boys could eat.

We were amazed about how much the boys could eat.

 

 

Playtime.. some children were drawing, some playing football.

Playtime.. some children were drawing, some playing football.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to work.

Back to work.

Finishing up filing.

Finishing up filing.

Local ingredients for the finishing wax.. beeswax and sunflower oil.

Local ingredients for the finishing wax.. beeswax and sunflower oil.

 

 

 

 

 

Applying the finish coat and polishing.

Applying the finish coat and polishing.

The music lessons start with Mr. Johnson.

The music lessons start with Mr. Johnson.

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The all important certificates presentation.

The all important certificates presentation.

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Watching themselves on video for the first time.

Watching themselves on video for the first time.

Watching 'The Lion King'.. a special treat.

Watching ‘The Lion King’.. a special treat.

Village bound, back the child care centre where the boys live.

Village bound, back to the child care centre where the boys live.

Traveling along the village road, Wanale Hill in the background.

Traveling along the village road, Wanale Hill in the background.

 

When rains permitted, we took a day trip to visit both ACIO and CCDO projects that LITA has been involved with now for many years.

 

 

 

Favour Primary School and dormitories at Community Child Development Orphanage (CCDO) in Buyobo.. built by LITA in 2014.

Favour Primary School and dormitories at CCDO in Buyobo.. built by LITA in 2014.

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The girl’s latrine and dormitory at CCDO beyond the beautiful floral surroundings.

 

 

 

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Onward to ACIO, it was market day in Mutufu trading centre.

 

 

 

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Returning the bedding to ACIO, walking along the trail to the children’s dorm.

 

 

 

 

 

LITA has just installed solar lights in the dormitories and one of the classrooms at ACIO.

LITA has just installed solar lights in the dormitories and one of the classrooms at ACIO. The chidlren were so excited when they returned to school. They could now study in the evening.

A 3-stance, 2 bathing stall latrine LITA is just completing at ACIO with funds from our 2015 Valentine's Day Benefit Dance.

A 3-stance, 2 bathing stall latrine LITA is just being completed at ACIO with funds from our 2015 Valentine’s Day Benefit Dance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strumstick workshops completed, we're enjoying what else Uganda has to offer.. seen here on the Victoria Nile at Murchison Falls National Park.

Strumstick workshops completed, we’re enjoying what else Uganda has to offer.. seen here on the Victoria Nile at Murchison Falls National Park. A big thank you to Catherine for hosting us and enabling the workshops to be so successful.

PS from Cath – Already starting as of last week, we are very happy that the music classes that began in our garage workshop are going to continue throughout this second term, taught by Mr. Johnson twice weekly, at both ACIO and CCDO schools.

Please check out ‘Figurenotes’ at: http://www.drakemusicscotland.org to learn about an amazing approach to teaching/learning music that Mr. Johnson is using to further the children’s understanding about music, the recorder, and strumstick.

You can click here to watch a short video about ‘Figurenotes’.

Thank you for your kind consideration to support the continuation of this program with a donation to LITA’s music project. More info about donating can be found here. 

 

16 May 2015 – 

Mr Johnson, a wonderful local music teacher, gave the boys a music lesson, starting with the using recorders that we had brought over from Canada before moving on to the strumsticks

Mr Johnson, a wonderful Ugandan musician, music teacher, and director of TASO (The Aids Support Organization) Mbale Drama Group, gave the boys a music lesson, starting with using recorders that we had brought over from Canada before he moved on to the strumsticks.

With nine strumsticks completed, on the last day of the 4 day course we had a fun music lesson, learning beginner recorder and strumstick arts.

Followed by a very important presentation of certificates to each participant.

Then after another big lunch, the truck ride home as far as Mutufu, and the walk on the trail through the village to the ACIO orphanage.

The lesson continues...

The lesson continues…

Any flat space will do for doing the homework ......

Any flat space will do for doing the homework ……

And here's the finished product.

And here’s the finished product.

Nine smiling faces, nine completed strumsticks!

Nine smiling faces, nine completed strumsticks!

Congratulations one and all! Very well done!

Congratulations one and all! Very well done!

15 May 2015 – 

On May 4th, the first workshop began with the 9 boys, their Director, Vincent, and Bern’s assistants helping.

The boys worked in groups of 3 at 3 workstations

The boys worked in groups of 3 at 3 workstations

Bern and his brother, Norm, aluminum jigs to ensure accuracy and success by each student.

Bern and his brother, Norm, made aluminum jigs to ensure accuracy and success by each student.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six hands make light work! Drilling needed care not to break the fragile drill bit.

Six hands make light work! Drilling needed care not to break the fragile drill bit.

Gluing the parts together, using a locally made brick wrapped in a plastic bag as a weight. This young man was one of our star students!

Gluing the parts together, using a locally made brick wrapped in a plastic bag as a weight. This young man was one of our star students!

Bern teaching the students how to sharpen a knife.

Bern teaching how to sharpen a knife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bern teaching the students the importance of taking care of the tools.

Bern teaching the students the importance of taking care of the tools.

 

LITA's Ugandan Agent, Bonny Mark, dropped by for a visit and some strumming!

LITA’s Ugandan Agent, Bonny Mark, dropped by for a visit and some strumming!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stringing and tuning required some adult help/ Fortunately Bern's assistants all became quite expert at it!

Stringing and tuning required some adult help. Fortunately Bern’s assistants all became quite expert at it!

 

Judy's diagrams to help in teaching English words.

Judy’s diagrams to help in teaching English words.

Director Vincent, enjoying the finished product!

Director Vincent, enjoying the finished product!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 May 2015 –

Planning the meals and food buying for 3 meals in 2 places for 20 people!

Cath and one of the boys planning the meals and food buying for 3 meals in 2 places for 20 people for four days!

The day before the boys from the ACIO orphanage arrived, was spent on logistics in housing, transporting and feeding our 10 visitors – 9 boys and caregiver Vincent.

Our neighbour cook ready with his 3 -stone fires to cook lunch for 20!

Our neighbour cook ready with his 3 -stone fires to cook lunch daily for 20!

 

 

 

 

 

The boys had a long journey from their child care center, along the muddy trail carrying their foam mattresses on their heads, to the trading centre, where they were met with transport to bring them to Cath’s home in Kamonkoli.. some two hours away.

This was an exciting trip for the boys, many of whom have never left the village before, been in a truck or on a tarmack road, or seen a three storey building or been in a city like Mbale..

upon arrival in Kamonkoli.. Let the strumming begin.. With Vincent, the Director of ACIO, overlooking, Bern handed some of the boys strumsticks he made and brought along from Canada!

Upon arrival in Kamonkoli – Let The Strumming Begin – With Vincent, the Director of ACIO, overlooking, Bern handed some of the boys strumsticks that he made and brought along from Canada!

 

6 May 2015 –

After Bern and his cousin, David, attended a course on making a strumstick in Vancouver, Bern decided it would be a great project to take to the orphans supported by LITA in Uganda. A strumstick, originally derived from an African string instrument, is a simple 3 – stringed dulcimer tuned to one key and is a good preparation for learning to play the guitar.

The first strumstick training workshop in Vancouver with four friends ~ Dec 2014

The first strumstick training workshop in Vancouver with four friends ~ Dec 2014

With brother Norm, they developed a method for the kids to make a strumstick for themselves.

As there is no electricity in the countryside in Uganda, their design used hand tools only and inexpensive components. They designed aluminum jigs and pre-cut the main parts of the sticks. We packed two large suitcases loaded with tools and parts and off we went to Uganda.

 

From Vancouver...

From Vancouver…

Arrival in Entebbe, Uganda

Arrival in Entebbe, Uganda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first week was spent preparing Catherine’s garage into a workshop, and training Bern’s three assistants who live with Cath, the founder of LITA.

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About Catherine Koch

Founder and President of Love Is The Answer, a Canadian registered charity serving orphaned children in Africa.
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8 Responses to LITA Workshop in Making a Strumstick (Final Update 25May2015)

  1. rajinder pendakur says:

    Thank you so much for sending the blog showing photos of the planning and preparation of the project being executed in the (mayI be so interpretive?)as your
    ashram for that is surely what has been created in the orphanage. It is a place of industrious, reverent action which honours the soul in it’s creative expression. the gift
    of giving the technology of transforming life through knowledge and the sound of the heart moving in the environment and thru the children was wonderful for me to see . An ingenious plan that evolved into a seed here and continues to spread and make it’s own shape thru caring guidance.
    in the children as they manifest the loved life.

  2. Terry says:

    Thanks so much Judy for this wonderful picture-story! I loved “being there” with you in my imagination! You and Bern are bringing such a great gift to the children through these workshops; the blessings are countless for all involved! Please keep these posts coming!
    Love,
    Terry

  3. Shirley Salommon says:

    What a great story! I so enjoyed reading the blog, I note the progress with transferring the learning gained from Bern’s first, Vancouver-based strum stick workshop! My, how happy the lads look with those instruments in their hands. What a great way to get them involved in manufacturing strum sticks themselves.

    Here’s to the next steps in the strum stick venture!
    Shirley

  4. alexandra charlton says:

    What lovely photos, Judy. The kids, and Bern, look to be having a good time. I had no idea of how far they had to travel to get there, nor of the logistics involved. Great project and wonderful to see this dream being realized.
    Glad you got to employ your other skills by providing some additional ESL.
    I hope there will be a recording of the graduation test of the kids playing a tune on their sticks. I’m sure it will be an improvement on our “twinkle, twinkle, little star”!
    Thanks for the update.
    Alex

  5. Corinne says:

    Thank you for sending this Judy. It fills my heart seeing these pictures and reading of the strumstick adventure and project. What a joy for everyone – enhancing each ones’ life and even adding music in the mix! Blessings to all there and a safe trip home for you and Bern.
    Corinne

  6. Bob Purdy says:

    Dear Bern and Judy,

    Wow!! To have completed the first strum stick manufacturing class in Uganda is wonderful and and quite an accomplishment. I am sure that for some of these boys it will be the start of an adventure in music that will last a lifetime.

    Warmly

    Bob and Wendy

  7. Judy Storr says:

    Bern and I would like to thank Catherine for sharing her house with us and the children for the workshops. We appreciate all the effort and organization she put in to make it all such a success.
    With love
    Judy and Bern

    • Our dearest Judy and Bern, thank you so much for your appreciation and Love, you are both most, most welcome!

      Gratitude reaches right back to you, the boys and I are feeling so grateful to you both. We all enjoyed having you with us, you inspired us, graced us, and our home, with your exceptional ways, and we know how we are all the more empowered by your Lovingkindness. Blessings whispered when we shared our last meal (for now!) in Kamonkoli echo on.. “May we always be together in our hearts and souls”.

      The strumstick workshops were such a success because of you. Building on your thoughtful, kind intention, your months and months of preparation, considerations, refinements, focus on creating the overwhelming assurance that each student could really accomplish the amazing objective of making, using their small hands, very good quality, stringed instruments over a few days, using hand tools and methods never heard or dreamed of before. That the children did it, ‘themselves’, and really owned the experience.. pure magic. Pure gift.

      You came and gave so much.

      As comments before mine have understood… the possibilities are endless as to the future reach of the ripples you have started here, continuing on right now with the music lessons that are taking place at ACIO and, soon to be, CCDO, at their village schools.

      To say nothing of the trust and support you have always, and continue to bestow upon me.. to take the chance, to travel all this way, to take up camp at our ‘kind-of, sort-of’ finished home, eat our local food, albeit so Lovingly prepared, over and over, with your big smiles, warm hearts, and steadfast appreciation!

      We all Love you both so much, I Love you, and we thank you always.

      Somewhere in Uganda, right now, a child and a strumstick are creating smiles, inspiring dreams and sharing beautiful sounds because of you both.. why, even last night Raven and Simba were heard to be strumming!

      Be Blessed xoxC

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