Spring 2020 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I started Music for Hope alongside young Salvadorian musicians in 1996 and it has been such an honour to see it grow from a tiny seedling project teaching music to twenty children in one community, to an amazing, passionate organisation supporting young people’s music and social development across sixteen Bajo Lempa communities.

In that time, we have seen a whole generation of young people access music education and go on to support their communities in a myriad of ways, not least through bringing music to every celebration and event.

I’m proud that Music for Hope continue to respond directly to the needs of children and young people in the Bajo Lempa and is cooperatively led by our fabulous, dedicated Salvadorian team.

After 22 years coordinating Music for Hope, it is a great pleasure to introduce you to Tony Luna who will be coordinating our work in the UK, thanks to generous funding that we secured at the end of last year.

Tony is from the community of Nueva Esperanza, has been involved in our work for many years and is now living in Liverpool with his partner, Sonia and young son, Anthony. He is passionate about Music for Hope, lives and breathes cooperative principles, and implicitly understands how important cultural work is to the young people of the Bajo Lempa so he is the perfect person to take my place. It has been an honour to work alongside him for the past two years to advocate for Music for Hope sharing what we do with different people. 

I will continue as Chair on the Board and will support Tony in his role, but will be stepping back from the day-to-day coordination of our work.

I look forward to seeing how Music for Hope will grow over the years to come!

With huge respect to all of you for being part of this journey! We could not have come this far without you.

Warm wishes,


I want to thank Katherine, on behalf of everyone who is part of this wonderful project, for her amazing contribution to the music, culture and violence prevention in El Bajo Lempa, El Salvador. 2018 was another full year of activities in the communities. Among the activities carried out during the year, the following can be mentioned and highlighted:

Updated from 21th Birthday Celebrations

Our 21st birthday was incredible. Trustees, volunteers and musicians worked hard with the preparations and the doors of LEAF in Manchester opened at 7:30 p.m.

The event began with the welcoming words of Katherine Rogers, founder, and promoter of Music for Hope. She also told us how this project started in the 90s when El Salvador was just emerging fom a civil war that caused great suffering for the Salvadoran people. After that, Tony Luna gave us his testimony about his journey through the music project, and how it changes the life of many young people, who were at risk of falling into the gangs, allowing children to express themselves through the popular music. We then watched a video of a song that the music groups wrote in El Salvador to celebrate the project’s 21st birthday.

Massive thanks to Shaun Redlake, an amazingly talented fingerstyle guitarist, and L’chaim Kapeyle, a professional klezmer band who fuse modern and traditional Yiddish Folk Music. They made us all dance and sing along.

Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate our 21st birthday and all of those who wanted to come but couldn’t make it. We celebrated 21 years of hope, solidarity, friendship, and positive changes through the music in El Bajo Lempa. We are grateful for all your support.

Joyce’s Legacy

As some of you already know, Music for Hope was one of the charities chosen for donations at the funeral of Joyce Canaan, one of our great supporters who died in August last year after an arduous battle with cancer. The donations during the funeral raised a total of £680. These funds will be used to support the music scholarships of two very talented children; Jairo from the Nueva Esperanza and Jonathan from La Canoa. These children have expressed their desire to continue their music education, as they want to support other children who want to learn music in their communities. That is how music teachers want to celebrate Joyce’s legacy. On behalf of those children, we express our gratitude to Joyce for such important support to El Bajo Lempa communities.

New financing for 2019

We want to thank one of our donors who at the end of 2018 offered to donate £ 25,000.00 for a year initially, with the possibility of extending it for three years. This funding will strengthen the musical groups and train new musicians who in the future will be the new teachers of Music for Hope in the Communities. The team of music teachers and the music for hope team in England have worked together to identify the needs and areas that need strengthening to continue forming young leaders within the project and solve different needs creating a budget for this year (2019). This fund will be going towards:

– Project coordinator in the UK.

– 2 Music teacher salary in El Salvador and coordination of the project.

– 1 Music teacher salary from July to December 2019.

– Electricity for 4 Musical Training Centers.

– Training workshops for music teachers.

– Music scholarships for 8 students of the Music Project.

– Transport for students to the Training Center in San Salvador

– Annual trustee and volunteer meeting (in person) the UK

–  Security nets in a Music Training Center.

– Annual visit to Music for Hope El Salvador for one of the trustees.

Thanks to IPAT

Thanks, to this new financing, this year we haven’t asked International Performers Aid Trust (IPAT) for additional support. As they have been with us for many years, since the foundation of IPAT, we would like to express our thanks for their unconditional support. We have helped to change the life of many young people and children who have managed to survive the violence through music. Thanks in particular to Michael Branwell, Ex-Chair of IPAT, and his wife, Henrietta  for the amazing support, love, and trust they have given to Music for Hope over the years. We believe that music has been a fundamental tool to fight against violence and promote good values ​​in the communities of El Bajo Lempa. It wouldn’t have been possible without their support. On behalf of each child, parent, music teacher, volunteer and Music for Hope trustees, thank you very much for your love and support.

Thank you, Pippa

This new year we also say goodbye to one of our trustees Pippa, who has supported us for a long time with the accounting of Music for Hope here in England. Pippa has helped give us a really solid grounding as a charity and her commitment has been unwaiving. On behalf of all of us who are part of Music for Hope we want to say thank you very much for all her hard work and fantastic input as treasurer. She has helped transform the charity. One of Eneyda’s groups composed for Pippa a song to show their gratitude for her great support.

News from El Bajo Lempa El Salvador

The Christmas concert is a yearly tradition, where the project puts on a concert in one of the communities in the area. This concert is organized by music teachers, students, and the community. This event is highly anticipated by all the musical groups of the project as it is an opportunity for students to show their best songs that they have learned to play throughout the year. It is also an opportunity to meet friends and colleagues from throughout the project, strengthening the bonds of friendship among all students from different communities.

The 2018 Christmas concert was held in the Octavio Ortiz community, better known as La Canoa, and was also part of the 25th anniversary of the repatriation of the community. This concert was very special to us, because it was a recognition of the work of Neri Ventura – a young man who was a teacher, and one of the founders of this project who has contributed to preserving the music and culture of the Bajo Lempa communities. Neri is a humble person, simple but with a big heart and a great musical talent who has left his musical legacy in the communities. During the concert, each music group performed their best songs in gratitude to Neri for his great contribution for so many years.

During the concert there was a lot of joy and dancing, but the most symbolic and emotional moment was

when the team of teachers personally gave a small recognition to Neri and on behalf of all of us who are part of MUSIC FOR HOPE, expressing their thanks for his great contribution to the development of popular music in the communities. In this way, we were also able to commemorate part of the historical memory of the project over the years.

Psychological attention to children of the project.

Currently, there is a psychologist who is working with the children of the music project. This is responding to the trauma experienced by many project students in Nueva Esperanza following the brutal murder of suspected gang members in 2016. Finance was obtained through the Agermanament Igualada- Nueva Esperanza ( Nonprofit Organization from Catalunya who has been supporting Music for Hope project from many years). Since October 2018, children who require specialized attention are able to access group support with a play therapist. Different group workshops have also been developed in the four Musical Training Centers that have helped to strengthen group cohesion and confidence amongst students.

Nueva Esperanza Music Training Center

Tony Centeno, teacher team coordinator, is assuming all the project coordinating responsibilities in El Salvador, particularly focusing on the communication between teams from El Salvador and England, facilitating information transfers and decision making for the development of the different project activities.

At the moment, he has a choir of boys and girls Voices of Hope, from the school in the Nueva Esperanza community, where students from different communities participate. Our music classes are split into two groups: beginner and advanced level. The beginner level students work individually, with the support of three of students – Jairo, Diego, and Rogelio – who collaborate with the teachers, helping to teach the new students. This strategy helps to enhance the skills of the students as future teachers as well as helping the newer students develop their music skills. The advanced level group, Musical Evolution, is beginning to take its first steps in songwriting, creating lyrics inspired by children who live without parents and are homeless. This is thanks to songwriting workshops given by Andrew Redden during 2018.

Amando López Community Music Training Centre, Teacher: Eneyda Amaya

Since Andrew’s last visit to the Bajo Lempa communities, Eneyda’s different groups have been working very hard to write their own songs with social content. One of the goals of each group is to have their own repertoire of songs, to be able to delight the audience with music that they enjoy so much when these children are on stage.

Eneyda has managed to keep active a group of young people who come to learn and practice music from the community of El Marillo. This is an important achievement for the project, as well as for the communities of Bajo Lempa, since a few years ago, the young people of this community were isolated and unable to travel to a different community. Travel was almost impossible and very dangerous because of the gangs, however the group’s continued commitment shows that music has been able to reestablish those bonds of friendship between young people from different communities, who once lived in fear of traveling to another different community.

Zamoran Musical Training Centre, Teacher: Pedro Esquivel

The music project is having good results in the community of El Zamoran through Pedro’s good teaching. One of his great achievements is the creation of the band, Inspiración. This band is made up of young people from different communities such as Limonera, Ciudad Romero and El Zamoran, and although still fairly new, it already has a song of its own arranged by Pedro, which is entitled “Donde está la Libertad”. One of the members of this band is Fermin Moreno from El Zamoran, who started as a Music for Hope student in the ’90s. Now, he and his two daughters Keny and Odaly are members of this band.

Inspiracion performed popular music with social content at one of the most important events in the Bajo Lempa, where leaders of various communities met to celebrate the general assembly of the movement affected by climate change and corporations (MOVIAC).

La Papalota Musical Training Centre, Teacher: Wilfredo Rodríguez

In this musical training centre, students show interest and dedication to the musical learning process, attending and participating actively in the classes. The band, Fuerza Tropical has a repertoire of cumbia, bachata, Quebraditas, and merengues. Some students have their own instruments which allows them to individually practice what they have learned in their homes. Other students have managed to consolidate the band, Hybrid; a group of young musicians between 17 and 23 years old. The members are very hands-on, providing ideas to structure the rhythm of the songs, each working individually and then practicing collectively in class.

With beginner students, classes are developed individually to cater for children from 6 to 10 years and dynamic, practical methodology is used. To move forward, students decide to practice at home and share knowledge.

At the end of the year, Wilfredo organizes a small farewell activity with all the students of the school, with the aim of building an atmosphere of trust and to motivate the students to continue with their musical training.

And Finally, …

We want to thank you for the amazing support, on behalf of the Music for Hope team, teacher and student.  This project it couldn’t be possible without your support. Hasta pronto!      

Tony Luna on behalf of all at Music for Hope