Photo credit: Laurence Paverd

It’s a weekday morning in Congo’s capital city of Kinshasa, and the humid air is thick with the sound of voices. Children weave in and out of stands selling bananas and oranges, melons and decorative beads, making their way to the dirt road leading to school. The walk is a long one, but their troubles have only just begun.

When they arrive, the rumors they heard are confirmed: the teachers have finally gone on strike since the government refuses to offer them even a meager salary. Deflated, the students begin the trek home once more. Without an education, where will they go? Who can look after them during the busy work day? It certainly won’t be the government. There are no role models to speak of in that area. They have nothing to do, no books to read, no web to surf, not even electricity to power their homes. Without their teachers, the children are lost. The town is still bustling when they return home.

Here’s where OPERAnauts comes in, bearing music and hope for better days. By providing music scores and mentorships for singers and musicians, they bond together while sharing the restorative power of music, proven time and time again to be the fastest boost to existing empathy skills, and strongest aid to those who lack them. As the students grow in their musical studies, they grow as people too; people with direction and resilience, people with the strength and determination that only mastering a difficult skill like musicianship can bring.

Change is wrought by those who feel they have the power to bring it, and for the suffering children of Kinshasa, power is in short supply. But, with OPERAnauts’ help, someday soon the road to school will no longer be paved with disappointment. It will radiate with hope in the brilliant morning sun.

by Niccolo Bechtler