We drove out of the crammed city, past polluted rivers, on dirt roads through dried-out palm forests, to a small school in the woods. Gang territory.
A few weeks ago, I traveled with one of our trainers through El Salvador to plan a project with UNICEF: strengthening children’s resilience in a country that has suffered from war and its successor—gang and criminal violence—for many decades.
Against a hopeless context—dislocation, poverty, decades of unprocessed trauma, lack of economic or social perspective—we met them: Pablo, a young violinist, who returned from exile to start a children’s orchestra in his native town. Sister Peggy, whose Center for Art for Peace brought life back to an empty city and made it safe. Mia, a musician who has taught generations of young Salvadoran artists to teach children in their own communities. David, Gabriel and Cecilia, who bring children to their cultural center in the woods, to draw, write, make music, and learn about their indigenous heritage.
They remind me of the words of a dear, wise friend: where empathy is lacking, be empathy. Where hope is lacking, be hope.
In a world dominated by violence and hopelessness, we are reminded that in every dry jungle, there is an oasis of hope. As musicians, we are lucky to have the greatest tool for empathy and hope: music. We are proud to join with other musicians without borders, to support their work in bringing empathy and hope through music to the children of El Salvador.
Director & Founder
Musicians without Borders