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11/23/19-A Folk(s) Song: Family Connection and HeartBeats!

Updated: Jul 31

Yesterday I delivered my 10th and 11th HeartBEATS music kits with The Welcome to America Project! The first kit went to a family from the Democratic Republic of Congo that had multiple children, including girls around eleven and five and a boy around nine. It wasn’t until a while into the delivery that I got to bring the kit because I was sidetracked by a whole group of young kids who were ready to play as soon as the Welcome to America Project truck showed up. This complex has many refugee families and we deliver there often. The kids know that when the truck shows up, there is going to be a flurry of activity and a lot of fun, happy people who want to play(and sometimes have toys!). After piggybacking a few giggling girls around the complex for a while, I made my way back up to the apartment.

One of the other volunteers, an ASU student, who does a lot of work for WTAP and who has been so supportive of my HeartBEATS program had found the music kit bag. She was carrying it around, so I could give it to the children in the family. I thought it was so thoughtful of her to do that! I took the kit and found one of the older girls, and we opened the kit together. I showed her the tambourine and rainbow jingle bells which she was fascinated by! I wasn’t sure how receptive she would be to the instruments because the target age is typically a little younger than she is, but she loved them! That only solidified my belief that the musical instruments can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. I handed the two egg shakers and rest of the kit to the younger girl who carried them over proudly to her mom. The mom then looked inside the kit and smiled and started showing her daughter the other instruments, teaching her how to use each of them. I think this speaks to the fact that HeartBEATS not only builds bridges between the volunteers and the refugees but also within the refugee families.

The next family I delivered to was from Afghanistan, and they had two sons, ages twelve and ten, and a daughter around the age of four. The daughter had an infectious smile and laugh that was almost as loud as the jingle bracelet she insisted needed to be on her wrist. She pulled all of the instruments out on her bed declaring with a huge smile, “These are mine!” I spent the rest of the delivery playing with her and the various dolls she had gotten, and when it was time to say goodbye, she hugged me and gave me a kiss on each cheek.

Though my time with these families is brief(often less than an hour for each delivery), it is so much fun for me to see how these small musical instruments can connect family members, volunteers, and other children in the complex. I love hearing the sound of a jingling bracelet or the shaking of a tambourine during the delivery that offers some joyful noise while we busily help turn a house into a home and offer a welcome that will hopefully last a lifetime.

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"Music is the universal language of mankind."

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow