Ghetto Classics Gives New Lease of Life to Slum Children

By Wilkister Alao / November 8, 2019 | 9:32 am



Ghetto Classics

In Kenya, Elizabeth Njoroge is using her background in classical music to give classical orchestra training to children in impoverished areas. Her initiative Ghetto Classics was founded 10 years ago on the belief that sheet music will help provide a blueprint for a better life.

Njoroge talks about her project’s goals, “I teach music to young people, especially those from underprivileged areas, with the belief that music changes their lives and therefore their future.”

Ghetto Classics began in Korogocho, one of the largest and most dangerous slums in Nairobi, before expanding across Kenya, where they teach about 1,500 children every week, when they are fully operational.

The project is designed to be very inclusive and Njoroge tells the program that all children can participate.

“Any child who walks in is welcome. And what you find is we become a family. Ghetto Classics is a family,” she proudly says. One child who rehearses with Ghetto Classics is Fredrick Ondari, who plays the violin, and Njoroge praises his commitment to the project.

“Little Fredrick walks across that dumpsite, a 45-minute walk, if not longer, through that dangerous space to come and practice almost every day, the commitment he has and the passion,” she explains, visibly proud of what Fredrick can do with his violin.

On top of providing a musical education, Ghetto Classics has been able to teach the children valuable life skills and keep them away from the more dangerous elements of their surroundings.

Njoroge says that one of Ghetto Classic’s goals is to create whole adults in the end, young adults who wil be productive members of society, who will be capable of overcoming great life challenges, such as those experienced in Korogocho slums.

“I keep telling them that you cannot change where you were born. But you can change where you’re going. That is up to you. And I hope that our program gives them that step to go to where they want to be,” she says.

Last week African Voices Changemakers, CNN International met the people who are making music and movies accessible in places where they are normally out of reach. This week’s program also meets the changemakers behind Sunshine Cinema, a company that takes their mobile movie theatres to remote areas across South Africa.

Susan Levine, the director of the board at Sunshine Cinema, talks about the company’s approach, “Films can be taken into spaces that have no electricity, where there is limited access, rural areas, urban areas with weak infrastructures, it means that the body of films can actually hit the road, with facilitators and reach audiences that otherwise just wouldn’t have access to films.”

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