2008’s Slumdog Millionaire bought the imagery of the poorest of the poor in India to a global audience. The premise of the movie of course was fantasy, but it served to highlight poverty to millions worldwide, many who may have had no idea that it existed on that level. But what if a project could offer a voice to the slumdog kids of Bombay, or those living on the streets of Central America?
Project Ahimsa, backed by NGO partners and musicians including Michael Franti, Funkadesi, Sly & Robbie to name a few, aims to give the poorest kids in the world an opportunity to make music. The participants don’t win prizes as in a traditional talent quest, but are given an opportunity to survive.
The project awards microgrants of a few thousand dollars each to support a music teacher or instrument purchase by local non-profits from Thailand to Tanzania. The goal is to inspire the kids, and promote cross-cultural understanding. “Out of all the things kids need, why music? It instills discipline, builds confidence and increases communication between kids, family, and the greater world, all tools for success no matter where you’re from,” Robin Sukhadia says of the program. “Music is very calming, especially for kids coming in from the streets. It’s one of the few ways they have to express themselves in a nonviolent way.”
But it doesn’t just stop at outreach. Program participants have featured in commercially released music, and benefit concerts for the program help raise money not only for the provision of the instruments, but also to help the next generation of underserved artists.
It’s a great program with inspiring results. More details on the Project Ahimsa website here, including details on how you can help.