Some of you may be aware of a trolling issue that we have on Facebook. The trolls hide behind fake accounts making fake accusations without any accountability themselves.
We have invited whoever is behind the trolling to identify themselves and come and see for themselves what we do. We have nothing to hide and would welcome their visit. Unfortunately, they continue to hide and propagate negativity, trying to damage the opportunity for others to get the life changing and life affirming access to music education and life-skills training that we offer.
So here are the real facts:
Where are the 1000+ children we work with?
Prior to the COVID -19 lockdowns in Uganda, Liberia and Rwanda we were working twice weekly with over 1200 youth.
We partner with around 30 local partners, such as Plan International, Hope for Justice (formerly Retrak Street Child Centres), Kampiringisa National Rehabilitation Centre, Save Street Child Uganda and work with the young people in their care. Find out more about some of our partners here: https://www.brassforafrica.org/our-programmes/
Why don’t we continually show you pictures and film of every child and tell you where they are located?
We work with disadvantaged and vulnerable youth, many of the organisations we work with forbid the use of cameras on their sites to protect the identity and privacy of their participants. Brass for Africa is fully engaged in our day to day teaching and training work but we do try to show a selection of our activities where and when we can, respecting the privacy of the individual and rules of our partners where applicable and appropriate.
Is our Life-Skills training relevant to young people in Africa?
We believe that Life-Skills such as self confidence, teamwork skills, communication skills etc are relevant to everyone no matter where they come from. However when looking at enhancing the nurturing of Life-Skills through music education we engaged a Ugandan owned and run Monitoring and Evaluation Consultancy (Lida Africa) to visit our programmes and observe our teaching team for a month to identify any relevant “life-skills” being delivered and attained. They observed over 30 attributes. The 8 believed to be the most useful then became the focus for our Life-Skills programme.
We then commissioned Ugandan employee owned and registered company Mango Tree Educational Enterprises to work with our Ugandan team. As curriculum specialists they facilitated and led the co-creation of the Life-Skills modules that are delivered to our Ugandan students by our Ugandan teachers.
Our head of Life-Skills, Maria, is Ugandan and continues to evolve and refine our life-skills offer in ongoing co-creation sessions with our teaching team and Ugandan student groups.
Brass for Africa’s Life-Skills programme is wholly conceived and developed in Africa and delivered in Africa for African youth by African teachers.
How are we controlled and held accountable financially?
Brass for Africa has two stringent independent audits each year. In Uganda independent auditors and accountants spend several days analysing our accounts and operation. Including a full inventory inspection of assets such as instruments.
In the UK Brass for Africa is registered as a Company limited by Guarantee (Not for profit) and registered as a charity with the UK Government Charities Commission. In order to comply with both UK Companies law and Charity Commission regulations our full accounts must be fully audited by independent and external registered accountants and auditors.
Winning grants from prominent and respected organisation such as the US Embassy, Plan International, Oxfam, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Hope for Children etc require stringent due diligence and inspection audits on the ground and at head office. We would not be awarded these grants if we did not meet the highest of standards and regulations.
Where are our employees from?
Brass for Africa employs, and supports employment, for over 40 people. The vast majority of our employees are from Africa with only two employees being non-African; our Director of Development based in London and our Director of Music Education based in Kampala. Both of these non-African positions are fully funded by private donors. We also have an administration manager in the UK who is employed by another company who then generously donate her services to Brass for Africa free of charge. Our CEO has never drawn any salary from Brass for Africa and continues to provide all of his services voluntarily. Thanks to this specific support 100% of all donations support the charity’s operation.
Have we had any external visitors that can validate what we do?
Yes, we are lucky to have had some wonderful visitors over the years.
Our composer in residence and Brass Band legend Alan Fernie has visited and worked alongside our teaching team in Uganda on several occasions.
We have also been visited by eminent trumpet virtuosos Alison Balsom and Guy Barker who subsequently became our patrons.
US virtuoso trumpeter and Professor Rex Richardson has also spent several days with Brass for Africa.
The British Army Corps of Army Music have visited our operations in Uganda on several occasions and this partnership has led to the employment of four of our ex teachers as UK Military Musicians.
We have had tours comprising teachers and students from several education establishments including Oberlin Conservatory and Virginia Commonwealth University, both in the US, and UK Schools such as Reading Blue Coat, Warwick School and Latimer School.
We are also delighted to provide internships for Oxford University Students and yearlong internships for German youth through our partnership with the Kolping Foundation.
In Liberia we have been honoured to welcome the First Lady Clar Marie Weah, wife of the 24th President of the Republic of Liberia, H. E. George Manneh Weah to our bandstand on serval occasions.
In Uganda we have been visited by Okello Stephen, the Executive Director of the Ugandan NGO Bureau, Dr. Sylvia Nanyonga of Makerere University and many of the LC1’s from the communities we work in. We also have a good relationship with the British High Commission to Uganda with High Commissioners, Deputy High Commissioners and Defence Advisors having visited our programmes.
Our doors are always open, and we welcome visitors.
How much money have we raised over the years?
Since we began 10 years ago, we have raised over £1 Million in support. However, this is not all cash money as when we receive goods and services free of charge or “in kind” (such as the donation of our Admin Manager’s Services) a monetary value must be apportioned to those and included in the accounts.
We are grateful for every penny, cent and shilling and it is spent wisely. Many people, including our auditors, express their opinion that Brass for Africa is run extremely efficiently and effectively and that it is remarkable how much the organisation has achieved on this budget working across three countries in Africa with all of the associated logistical challenges.