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India: For the Children

There are not many times in our demanding lives that we are able to sit back and enjoy the simple beauty that lives around us. Residing in a city where charm is not the forte, appreciating ordinary scenery is not as easy as it may be in naturally picturesque environments. Occasionally, however, we are able to escape our monotonous life and experience a new and different outlook on our postings. Although India is not known for its technological advancements, its efforts for a new and improved society, or its high literacy rate, it is the lack of these in the most remote of areas that makes it a unique and inimitable country. I have been fortunate enough in the past 3 years to be able to share in this unpretentiousness on more than one occasion.

For the past few years our school choir and band has taken it upon themselves to travel around India. We perform for people who are typically not able to experience the pure sound of music or to be filled with the hope and the sense of belonging that is so easily shared. Even though they are not able to understand the language, they simply enjoy the music for the pure sounds it creates. They too are then able to escape from their arduous life and be filled with the enchanting elegance of music.

This year for the second time, our music department is traveling up to Dharmasala, a remote city located in the mountains of India. There we will give a concert for the Tibetan Children's Village and one at the Tibetan Cultural Center. The majority of the people who live in Dharmasala are the Tibetan refugees that have fled from communist China in hope of a better life. Many of them, in their journey across the border, have had the only members of their family killed or lost, and reach freedom as a widow, or even worse, an orphan. The young children have had to witness their parents being brutally murdered, hide from the armies that will try to kill them, and then continue on their extensive quest for freedom across the Himalayas. Children younger than three and four have seen and felt many things that we cannot and do not want to imagine. Our mission is to try to restore the hope in their lives, which does not exist in most, through our music. Even though they are not able to understand the language, they enjoy the music for the assurance it restores in them, because they, too, will be able to realize that the endeavor they made was for the best, no matter what the costs.

It is through music that many others and I are able to see and feel the struggling and fighting these tiny children have had to experience. It is this that allows us to further enjoy our performances, and to want to help them receive the love and attention they have so easily forgotten. This afternoon we will depart on a train up to the hill stations of India, with the purpose of being able to offer something of ourselves to them. What we are not able to realize until after we return back to our droning lives is that they, in the long run, will give us much more then we could ever imagine. It is when they look up at us that we are able to see the twinkle of hope in their eyes, which we, as a whole, were able to bestow upon them. It is this sparkle that continually causes us to return to their villages, so that we can once again share a part of ourselves, and allow them to escape from memories of the past.


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