February 2013 will be remembered as the month in which all South Africans became acutely aware of the enormous extent of the violence perpetrated against women and children. Everyone reading a newspaper, listening to the radio, or watching the news have heard the dire statistics: of how a woman or child is raped in our country every four minutes; how the level of rape in South Africa is higher than in war torn countries.
I was listening to the radio a few days after Aneen Booysen’s rape and murder. People were phoning in and making suggestions of solutions and answers to the big question: how do we fix this? I realised that the work MTCC does with vulnerable children and young people, forms part of the constructive response to such devastation. Our music therapists return from site telling a story of 3 children in 1 music therapy group who had been raped; this is a group of 6 year olds. Our community development worker speaks with passion about young men in marimba bands who grow up in a community where they have very few role models; where often men in their family and community are in gangs, abuse drugs and have no respect for women. But in spite of this, these young men have been showing up religiously for their weekly marimba rehearsals for the past 7 years. They are now running marimba groups with younger boys in their community and passing on an attitude of respect, kindness and care. They have become the role models in their community that they themselves have never had.
The work of MTCC does not offer a solution to the unspeakable reality that our country is facing. We are not changing the world. But we are impacting on the life of every young child that finds his or her place in the circle of a music therapy group. We are offering possibilities of self-discovery to every young person that shows up for a marimba band or choir rehearsal. In the face of this enormous problem, we are not just making music for the sake of fun or entertainment or to give children something to do after school. We are making music for the sake of changing lives.