Faith Gonsalves has an article of faith—children. She is doting, understanding and immensely loving towards them. Considering she has to deal with a few hundred every day, she isn’t able to pay individual attention to each. But over the years, she has been able to positively impact each life through a common running thread—Music Basti, a Delhi-based organisation started by her in 2008, which focuses on using music for community building, and development of children and youth, by engaging them in interactive music education programmes and life skills led by youth leaders and artistes.
Even though these children aren’t biologically hers, she has invested in them more than any parent could ever invest. “Music has proven it aids social cohesion, helps children understand themselves and others, and it promotes social skills like empathy. It provides a space to be creative, experimental, and develop independence and self-esteem,” says Faith. “Shared performance builds teamwork, collaboration and participation skills. Children learn to cooperate with others to reach a common goal through playing, rehearsing and performing music, and develop an awareness of different musical parts, and the roles and contributions of different members of a group,” adds Faith who set up Music Basti when she was only 19 years old, with the support of Integrated Development Education Association (IDEA) and The YP Foundation, a youth organisation she was associated with.
Deeply interested in connecting different worlds and finding mediums that cut across social, economic and linguistic boundaries, Faith felt music was something everyone should be able to access, and most importantly, enjoy—especially the disadvantaged.
“Our aim is to motivate, mobilise and train the youth, and the music community, to understand child rights, and use music to protect and promote these rights. The projects we undertake, promote participatory learning. The immediate environment most of these kids come from is deeply lacking in empowering relationships with society as a whole, as well as positive role models. It does not foster the development of critical life skills, namely, self-confidence, communication and cooperation among the children and youth,” she says.
Today, Music Basti engages about 300 artistes and over 500 children. “The project engages children with music and the world through culture. We try to not lose the spirit of the project, to build meaningful relationships between artistes and children,” says Faith who has initiated a number of programmes such as music workshops at Uma Pandey Home, run by NGO Aman Biradari in Shastri Nagar; the creation of a short film to generate awareness; film screening of Music Basti followed by an eponymous concert at India Habitat Centre; collaborations with The YP Foundation featuring performance by 50 children trained by us and a lot more. “Music will aid these children who have right to enjoy their childhood,” she adds.