Introduction to the UK Team

Katherine Rogers

Chair of Music for Hope

Why did you decide to get involved with Music for Hope?

I set up Music for Hope in 1996, having collaborated initially with young musicians from Nueva Esperanza. I was totally inspired by their love of music and their eagerness to learn, despite not really having the means to do so. I was also inspired by their cultural and political heritage and wanted to support in the only way I knew how; through music. So I did some fund-raising in the UK and returned to the Bajo Lempa communities the following year with a small amount of money to buy basic resources and run music workshops for free. I quickly enlisted the help of others from the communities, particularly Moises Munguia from Nueva Esperanza and Jose Neri Venturas Jacobo from La Canoa who helped to grow our work whilst rooting it in the values, traditions and needs of the communities. And so it started. I have been involved ever since; from getting things off the ground, to teaching, to organising, to fundraising, evaluating, governance and overseeing our work. It’s really good to see Tony Luna from Nueva Esperanza take a leadership role in our work today. 

What do you like most about the project?

I love that Music for Hope is locally run using cooperative models, that it directly responds to the needs of Bajo Lempa young people and is still a grassroots initiative.  I also love the fact that we have an amazingly committed and talented teacher team who put their heart and soul into our work and that we now have a generation of young people who have contributed to the cultural and political life of their communities both through music and other skills they have learnt through Music for Hope. It is wonderful to be involved in something that makes a big difference to the lives of young people in the Bajo Lempa. Que viva la musica! Que vivan las comunidades del Bajo Lempa!

Tony Luna

Coordinator

Why did you decide to get involved with Music for Hope?

I grew up in a rural community in El Salvador where the organization, solidarity and community spirit are part of everyday life. I decided to be part of Music for Hope because it meets the same principals in which one of the main goals is to promote music and artists from the rural communities. It gives children and young people the opportunity to learn and express their thoughts through popular music. At the same time as a project we are contributing to violence prevention, providing a way for children and young people to avoid becoming part of this big problem that affects the whole country.

What do you like most about the project?

 I most like the sense of brotherhood between everyone involve in the project, even though we are from different countries and cultures, everyone is important and counted as equals, allowing us to work together as a family for the same reason. We help children and young people from poor communities in El Salvador to learn, practice and express themselves through music and change their life.

Andrew Redden

Trustee and currently the charity’s Historian/ Documentary-maker

Why did you decide to get involved with Music for Hope?

Back in 2013 I heard Katherine give a presentation on the project and I was blown away, we chatted and after that I happily began volunteering. My first trip to El Salvador was that year when I began filming and photographing the project as it was developing to assist in fund-raising efforts.

What do you like most about the project?

A difficult question – there are so many things I like about the project. I suppose (and I’ll probably roll a few things into one here), I most like the way the project realises the latent talent of the kids in the communities and develops it in an environment in which they also learn core social values such as friendship and leadership. Almost as soon as they start learning the youths involved start teaching other younger kids what they know and not only does that build their individual self-confidence but it also forms bonds of intimacy between them as well as helping them to learn patience, tolerance and perseverance. On top of that, the music is a bonus.

Lucie Phillips

Trustee

Why did you decide to get involved with Music for Hope?

I wanted to get involved with Music for Hope because I’m a musician who is passionate about using the gift of music to help and educate people. Music is more than just a skill to be learnt; it can be a powerful and beautiful way to transform communities and bring people together. 

What do you like most about the project?

I love being able to work within a team that is so absolutely committed to our cause. And it’s amazing to see how the brilliant work done by our teachers in El Salvador is changing lives. 

Cornelia Gräbner

Trustee

Why did you decide to get involved with Music for Hope? 

I got involved because Music for Hope speaks to my deep and long-standing commitment to the integration of grassroots creative cultural practices in the widest sense, with community projects for self-determination and grassroots activism for peace and justice. Also, Music for Hope practices solidarity where all involved are on eye level with each other and respect each others’ different circumstances and experiences. I was hoping that my knowledge and experience in these areas could be of use to the project.

What do you like most about the project?

That the team in El Salvador stand their ground with such dedication, dignity and courage.

Sophie Helsby

Treasurer

Why did you decide to get involved with Music for Hope?

Two of my friends, Cornelia and Siobhan, were already part of Music For Hope, and told me the charity needed a treasurer, did I know anyone who might be able to help – I said “Yes, me!”. I’ve been involved with Girlguiding UK ever since I was a 5 year old Rainbow, and the best part of being an adult leader in Guiding is helping the girls in your unit develop themselves to be the best they can be. Music for Hope is enabling the communities in the Bajo Lempa to do the same for their young people through music, and I’m proud to be a part of the team that is making it happen. Keeping track of the money we receive from donations and grants may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoy keeping track of the money coming in and going out, knowing that every donation we receive is used to support the work we’re doing in El Salvador.

What do you like most about the project?

I love seeing the photos and videos shared by the teachers in El Salvador on social media. The enthusiasm of the young people playing, their dedication to their learning, and the friendships they have made, they’re all really evident in the songs they play – I don’t speak a useful amount of Spanish, but I don’t need it to hear the passion that they have for their music and their communities.

Siobhan Shay

Volunteer

Why did you decide to get involved with Music for Hope?

I have had an interest in music education, outreach projects, and ways music can be used to help people for many years; while studying Music at The University of Manchester I worked with several UK-based organisations and projects delivering sessions to local school children. Until discovering Music for Hope, I had not worked with any charities or organisations outside of the UK, and when I heard about the charity from Cornelia (one of the trustees, and a good friend) I knew I wanted to help however I could. Not only does this allow me to experience something different to projects I have worked on before, but I know my involvement has an impact on people in very difficult and challenging situations, and that music has literally saved and changed lives in El Salvador.

What do you like most about the project?

For me, it’s the power that music has on the people who are involved in Music for Hope; the students, teachers, parents, families and the volunteers are all affected in some way. It is incredible to see and hear the stories of how people have turned away from gang violence and had the chance to do something they enjoy and have not had access to before through Music for Hope. Even in my own life, I would not be who I am today if it were not for access to music lessons, so being a part of a charity that helps people with no other chance to experience music is something wonderful that I am proud to be a part of.

Emily McIndoe

Volunteer

Why did you decide to get involved with Music for Hope?

I decided to get involved with Music for Hope after I heard Katherine and Tony talk about the project and the communities in the Bajo Lempa. I found their story incredibly inspiring and I wanted to help in any way I could.

What do you like most about the project?

I like the community spirit of the project, and how something as simple as music has the power to bring communities together and change people’s lives. I’m proud to be part of such a dedicated team, both here in the UK and in the Bajo Lempa.