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The Healing Power of Music | Gifts That Give Back

Posted on October 12, 2016 by LBOR Team

Make Music Matter

All those familiar with LBOR know that we are more than just a product or a company. We are a movement – a community of recipients, senders, and LBOR team members working together toward the common goal of sending positive energy.

It's for this reason that LBOR is very pleased to have teamed up with Make Music Matter, an innovative non-governmental organization that uses music as a form of healing therapy in countries that have been deeply scarred by conflict, HIV/AIDS, and violence against women. Send our Lotus (Mother) bouquet and 10% of sales will be donated to help support and facilitate the emotional, psychological, and spiritual healing of women and children in these war-torn regions.

We spoke to Make Music Matter founder Darcy Ataman to learn more about the concept of "music therapy" and how it works.

Little Box of Rocks: We absolutely love the fact that your organization is using music as a form of therapy. Can you tells us how it works?

Darcy Ataman:  Music has always helped
people around the world to overcome Darcy Ataman, Founder, CEO Make Music Matterhardship by providing comfort and consolation, and by helping them to directly address the most divisive issues facing their communities. Our specialized and own unique brand of music therapy sees our participants (often survivors of extreme sexual violence) working in tandem with a trained psychologist and music producer, writing, recording and professionally producing songs about their emotions and experiences.

The process has a profound effect on both psychological healing and the restoration of a supportive, healing community. Our participants are transformed into artists who in-turn become advocates by publicly disseminating their music through local radio broadcasts, social media, community concerts and CD distribution, reducing stigma about sexual violence and more.

LBOR: This sounds absolutely incredible. What an amazing idea! Do you remember the moment you were inspired to create Make Music Matter?

D: In 2009, I was in Rwanda for 5 weeks in order to film a documentary and record an album that saw Canadian musicians collaborate with Rwandans. I used a studio I constructed in Kigali as a creative space in order to make everyone equal. At that point I had already been working in several African countries for years spearheading various humanitarian and development projects. That being said I began to feel guilty that I was not, for example, a doctor or politician which I thought could do more to help at the time than a music producer. One day during our 5-week stint we decided to take some of the recording equipment to a local school in order to give the local youth a fun day of music, recording and performance.

When we arrived at the little hillside school in rural Rwanda we found that the entire school was full, the building was surrounded and there were literally kids trying to crawl through the windows in order to get in.

Make Music Matter

When inside we noticed many of the youth were wearing homemade hip hop outfits and knew the lyrics to the most current rap songs even though they lived without electricity. It confirmed to me that music galvanizes communities. Then they handed me the sheets of paper that contained the lyrics for the songs they had written. All of them were about HIV/AIDS, how it affected their community, their rights not to sell their body to live another day, their rights to go to school, etc. At that moment we quickly realized music was also an effective and efficient manner to talk about taboo subject matter. At that moment Make Music Matter was born.

LBOR: I have chills... Sounds like an incredibly profound experience. Can you tell us a bit about those who benefit from the program and the challenges they face day-to-day?

D: In particular, our innovative music therapy program located at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in partnership with Panzi Foundations is helping survivors of sexual violence, other vulnerable women and children use the healing power of music to recover from traumatic experiences.

The hospital serves more than 400,000 constituents in the DRC, and is world renown for its best-in-class holistic healing model serving survivors of sexual violence. Our participants/artists can be survivors as young as 7 years old and as old as 75.

LBOR: What happens in the music therapy program?

D: Going a step beyond traditional music therapy techniques, the program centers around a locally-built recording studio on hospital grounds. Women, children, and vulnerable community members gather in this studio and work with a therapeutic team that includes a psychologist trained in music therapy and a professional music producer. They transform from patients into artists.

The beautiful, evocative songs that our artists record and professionally produce, are written about their daily lives and traumatic past experiences. They are then disseminated through radio broadcasts, community concerts, and social media, helping to chip away at the stigma surrounding sexual violence and advocate to address its root causes.

LBOR: Tell us about the progress you’ve seen in introducing this program and what its meant for its benefactors?

D: Our particular music therapy program has demonstrated promising results in improvements across all three mental health dimensions of anxiety, depression and PTSD. In particular, women in our program were 80% more likely to have an improvement in their PTSD scores than women who did not participate in our program. Women in our program were twice as likely to have an improvement in their anxiety scores.

One story has resonated with me over the last few months. It was the first day during my last trip to the DRC where I was observing one of our sessions. At the end of it I asked our psychologist to ask the women how they think I saw them.

One lady stood up and said that she thought I used to see them as worthless, without any value because of what had happened to them, but now they think I see them as artists. To me that is the highest compliment I could have received.

Make Music Matter

I will never forget another story from a community concert I attended approximately a year ago with one of our participants/artists. She was a 16-year-old survivor, who, at such a young age already had two children born of rape. One child lives with her grandmother in her home village, while the youngest, approximately one year old, lives with the survivor’s at Panzi’s aftercare facility where our program is housed. This innocent child serves as a constant reminder of the horror and trauma endured by his mother, which resulted in her perpetual rejection, offering her child very little attention and care. After participating in our program and subsequent community concert, her behavior toward her child began to shift.

She was so overjoyed by the response of the crowd that she lovingly picked him up and began kissing her baby. This embrace was the first time that she demonstrated an attachment to her child.

It was a moment where both performer and audience members could forget their pain and participate in pure joy.

LBOR: I can imagine your job isn’t always easy and often quite dangerous for you. What keeps you going on the tough days?

D: As much as it can be quite uncomfortable at times in the field and often times dangerous as I become more well-known in the community, I still hold the ability of being able to go home in theory. I hold a passport to a free and democratic country that welcomes me back every time I return. I strongly feel that the luxury of choice inoculates me from acquiescing to ever giving up. Our local staff still face danger and challenges on a daily basis that deflate my fleeting moments of questioning my path in life. Every near death experience in the end has made me more empathetic to our common humanity and connected to the most vulnerable in the world. That is a gift that has been more than worth the price I paid for it.

LBOR: Thank you for sharing this with us. There is truly no better gift than the gift of connection.

For more on how you can Make Music Matter, visit their website here.

Good vibes,

Little Box of Rocks

Posted in Get Inspired: Q&A's