Dance, love, sing, stay
The Mercy Middle’s music programme is a testomony to the shelter’s ongoing success story
printed : 11 Feb 2020 at 09:20
Sunday music class at Mercy Middle. Images: John Clewley
Father Joseph Maier, an Irish American priest who has devoted his life to serving to marginalised and abused youngsters in Klong Toey, Bangkok, shall be well-known to long-time readers of the Bangkok Publish. His brief tales on these youngsters and their struggles are, for my part, among the many finest written within the Bangkok Publish. They current a few of the saddest but most uplifting tales you may examine. Father Joe’s tales pull on the coronary heart strings and make you’re taking discover.
That Father Joe manages to jot down these tales in any respect is wonderful; the place does he discover the time? Father Joe arrange and runs the Mercy Middle, a shelter for avenue children, encompassing 5 orphanages, a hospice, houses for moms and kids contaminated with HIV/Aids, a big kindergarten (for greater than 300 youngsters) and a communal assembly place. As well as, he arrange the Human Improvement Basis to organise neighborhood companies which embody drug rehabilitation, small enterprise financing and welfare help.
It had been a couple of years since I final visited the Mercy Middle, so when Irish music and Irish research knowledgeable Prof Mick Moloney invited me to see the Sunday music programme there, I jumped on the likelihood.
Mick Moloney is an award-winning conventional musician (an knowledgeable on the banjo) and educational, born in Limerick, Eire, however resident within the US for a few years. He’s carried out on over 70 albums and has taught ethnomusicology, folklore and Irish research on the College of Pennsylvania and New York College. He spends as much as six months a 12 months right here in Bangkok and is at present educating a course in politics at Thammasat College.
About 15 years in the past, he advised to Father Joe that it will be enjoyable to arrange a music programme for kids on the Mercy Middle. Each males agreed and Moloney started to gather devices: drums, bass guitars, and Thai devices like ranat and ching (temple bells). He has additionally raised funds for the programme. Later, Prof Terry Miller of Kent State College and an knowledgeable on lam music from Isan, sourced and supplied a spread of conventional northeastern devices, which inspired many boys to affix the programme.
On the Sunday I visited, the music room on the third flooring of the Mercy Middle was full of youngsters of all ages, from toddlers to youngsters. The programme, defined Moloney, is taught by academics and college students from Mahidol College. Once we arrived, one of many older women was practising a solo dance to the accompaniment of conventional music. Youthful college students had been being proven the fingering and patterns of their devices by older classmates.
Then others joined the dance and the entire room got here alive to the sound of music and the sleek strikes of the dancers. Smiles broke out among the many individuals. The boys declined to affix the ladies dancing, preferring to bash away at drums, rhythm sticks (chap), temple bells (ching) and their favorite, the bonglang – a picket xylophone from Isan that’s often tied to a tree and performed virtually vertically. You may definitely do away with some extra vitality with a bash on the bonglang.
Prof Moloney jogged my memory that just about all the kids within the class had unhappy private histories. Many have HIV. Few knew their dad and mom. However you wouldn’t know any of that from observing the music class; positive, some children had been reluctant to get entangled, however they had been gently coaxed by the elder college students to affix in, have some enjoyable and simply benefit from the music and dance.
And a few of these children can actually dance and play. However the overwhelming impression I acquired from my go to was the sense of pleasure the kids acquired simply by participating within the class. As Bob Marley as soon as stated: “One advantage of music, when it hits you, you are feeling no ache.”
Should you want to contribute, volunteer or donate to the Mercy Middle, contact The Human Improvement Basis by means of the web site mercycentre.org.
John Clewley may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.