AN INSTRUMENTAL JOURNEY: how the UK donated musical instruments to El Sistema Greece
El Sistema Greece is a young and small social project that uses music to strive for happiness and social inclusion for young refugees, migrants and Greeks, in the area of Athens.
In the past two years, we have been receiving visitors and journalists, but last June 2018 we suddenly got a fame-hype thanks to the publishing of an article in The Times and The Sunday Times. The journalist (Hattie Garlick – article here) said beautiful things about our work, which of course made us feel proud and somehow brought a lot of attention to what we try to do on a daily basis. What we did not expect was the reaction of the readers. They not only liked us on Facebook and Instagram, but they also directly contacted us to support the programme. In a few days, we received 55 emails of people who either wanted to donate us their instruments or some money. Mails were coming in at a speed it was difficult to keep the pace to.
Suddenly, we had to organize a kind of POSTAL OFFICE (thanks to Askonas Holt) for instruments to be delivered in London and then we finally had to plan how to ship these instruments. Our initial plan of transporting to Athens a couple of oboes and clarinets into our suitcases, and maybe some violins as hand-luggage, was not feasible anymore. The readers of The Times were donating us saxophones, celli, guitars, French-horns and even double basses and tubas, in huge quantities!
On top of these, Sistema England also helped our programme by opening their own donations enquiries to us. They wanted to donate us the instruments they were not using for this season, so we got even more items to transport to Greece.
“So now let’s look for a shipping company to provide us their services” we thought… and here we got another wonderful surprise: a company offered to give us a huge truck and a driver, who went to several places for different pick-ups in the UK. Andreas drove through the Alps, embarked on a boat in Italy and finally delivered 272 instruments to our deposit storage room in Athens. For free, because they wanted to find a way to help the initiative and be part of the generosity of all donors. Thank you, Conceptum Logistics and Maintaler, you did a huge financial and human effort for El Sistema Greece!
The whole story is so beautiful and up-lifting…we don’t believe it ourselves!
The words written by the donors made us feel we are doing the right thing. Receiving the instruments that had once belonged to them or to their children, made us feel they wanted to be part of our story. The encouragements to “keep-up the good work” made us understand that there are many persons out there thinking that INCLUSION is the good direction, not building up walls; that generosity is the secret of peace and stability – not fear, not greediness.
So, this is another “happy ending” story for El Sistema Greece. We have received generous donations which we have managed to transport for free. The next steps are now in our hands: taking good care of these instruments and handing them over to our children from Syria, Afghanistan, Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kurdistan, Greece, Venezuela. Wherever they come from, our students will be able to learn how to use these instruments and will be happy to perform on a stage, together with friends from all over the world.
Quite a remarkable journey – for the instruments and for us.
Eternal thanks to all who decided to give their old instruments a new life, as well as those who drove them to their second home.