Music really has an intense and immediate impact on children, especially those who are suffering. I get to see this each week that I am at the Rehabilitation Clinic for Children in Kolkata. This very special hospital for poor children from West Bengal and Bihar provides comprehensive surgery, prothetics and physical therapy for over 500 children each year, free of cost. Some of the children stay for over 2 years here as they undergo slow and painful corrective surgery. But what is most remarkable, is that every child walks out of the hospital after their stay.
I have been coming here now for 3 weeks, and yesterday was my 5th session with the kids. The connection to them is amazing, each time I come to the hospital with my tabla, the kids get very excited. While there, i accompany them on tabla and also lead body rhythm workshops. The kids sit on the floor, many of them in casts, and we clap, we whisper, we shout, we laugh and we recite tabla bols. Sometimes, i treat them to a picture show using a projector.
It is amazing to see their eyes light up as we travel far away via their imagination from the suffering they are currently enduring. They forget their pain for a little while, and they can be silly beautiful children, playing in music. Some days, I bring special guests with me to open the ears of the children more. Eric Fraser, another Fulbright scholar and a certified Music Therapist, came to class to play bansuri for the children. They loved it! He then led an interactive group session with the children using clapping and singing.
Project Ahimsa made the donation of all the instruments here possible. Most important, the music teacher Krishnaji, who is a trained musician from abinder Bharati University, has been coming here for over 10 years. Her salary is supported by Project Ahimsa, and she comes twice each week to be with the children. Working alongside her is inspiring.