The December 26th, 2004 tsunami disaster claimed the lives of nearly 300,000 people and left an estimated five million homeless, including 1.5 million children, most of who were orphaned. Due to its proximity to the epicenter, the province of North Sumatra suffered the most physical damage and human loss. It's hard to imagine the emotional trauma and agony that lingers in the aftermath. Personally, I worried about the children. There were horrible reports of sexual abuse and child slavery. Other reports involved misdirection of relief funds and supplies as well as general suspicion of outside help. Like most people at the time, I felt helplessly overwhelmed and confused about what I could do to make a difference in their shattered lives. As time passed, many of the children's needs were provided for by donations to relief organizations. But I continued to think about addressing the traumatic stress and emotional pain the children must be feeling after having their entire worlds swept away. The opportunity to help presented itself through interest in my non-profit organization, Harmonikds.
Harmonikids is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which provides special needs children harmonicas and the joy of music through therapeutic, entertaining, and stress relieving instructional sessions. Through the portable and child-friendly harmonica, kids are given the lasting gift of music, which provides self-confidence, achievement, creativity and self-expression. Harmonikids has effectively reached thousands of kids with special needs widely ranging from learning disabilities to cerebral palsy to terminal cancer.
When I received the phone call inviting Harmonikids to North Sumatra, naturally I pondered the effectiveness of my organization to provide aid to the child victims of such a tremendous catastrophe. I concluded that regardless of the many complications, obstacles, and dangers, it would be the ultimate challenge and a unique opportunity to make a difference in their lives. I eagerly accepted.
Read the complete Harmonikids Rebuilding Spirits of Tsunami Orphans story here.