My name is Junior Pius. I got to know Brass for Africa whilst I was at Kampiringisa Rehabilitation Centre, I played Tuba in the Kampiringisa Brass Band.
Kampiringisa is Uganda’s only juvenile rehabilitation facility, housing vulnerable street children alongside youth “at conflict with the law”. Brass for Africa provides music education, life skills training and psychosocial support to more than 200 children and young people every week.
Pius was 8 years old when he was taken to Kampiringisa, but prior to this he had already spent 2 years living on the streets. “My father met another woman and they started mistreating me and my siblings, My father threw us out of the home, and I ended up on the streets at the age of six.”
The United Nations estimates that more than half of Uganda’s children live in vulnerable situations.
When children arrive at Kampiringisa they have lost trust, they have lost love. There is an urgent need to try and rehabilitate these children and lead an effort to engage them back into society. The living conditions are poor and make life extremely difficult. It is the government’s responsibility to care for and protect these children, and they have given their full support for Brass for Africa to assist in improving the quality of life within the Centre.
Music requires discipline, dedication and concentration. It is now one of the main tools the social workers at Kampiringisa use to rehabilitate these children and youth.”We are developing trust by playing in the band together. They have all come through extremely difficult situations, but music is helping them to control their emotions, build their social skills and self-confidence. When they are playing an instrument it gives them a new sense of life and identity.” Edward King, Social Worker
“Before Brass for Africa started working there. It was like being deep in the jungle alone, so quiet, nobody can hear you and nobody can help.Music helped us to express ourselves and to communicate with people.”
“What makes playing in the band so enjoyable is practicing as a unit, seeing everyone have fun and working as a team. My instrument drives my desire for the love I have for music. Brass for Africa is doing a great job at Kampiringisa. I know what it was like before Brass for Africa started working there. It was like being deep in the jungle alone , so quiet, nobody can hear you and nobody can help. Music helped us to express ourselves and to communicate with people. Some of the kids there would never talk but when we started learning music together we were able to communicate and become comfortable with each other through instruments.
Pius has been reintegrated back into society and not only is he employed by Brass for Africa but is thriving as a role model for his friends and other young people staying at Kampiringisa.
Where I used to be in Kampiringisa was like the worst nightmare, but after 10 years there I now feel like I am on top of the world living with my friends, we are a brass family. And with this opportunity to work in the repair workshop I have got good people surrounding me all the time, and I feel at the centre of it all. “If it wasn’t for Brass for Africa, I would have stayed at Kampiringisa, but last year I started working for Brass for Africa in the workshop as an instrument technician. It has been a big year in my life and I am happy for the opportunity to work and show my skills. Whenever I go back [to Kampiringisa] I give my friends that are still there hope and tell them that nothing is permanent they can also one day leave and have the life I have gained. Sometimes I go and stay there and help the band prepare before functions, and even train the members so they can perform.
“WE USED TO BE INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE GONE THROUGH DIFFICULT THINGS BUT BRASS FOR AFRICA HAS BOUGHT US TOGETHER SO WE CAN SHOW THE WORLD HOW YOU SHOULD TREAT CHILDREN, AND BY TELLING STORIES WE CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE.”