The school is located in the beautiful village in Lalitpur district, Chapagaun. The school is the community based institution where the children are from the same locality. The majority of the people in the area are from Newar culture.
The school is providing Nepali curricular education for 300 students.
Association for The Welfare of Intellectual Handicapped (AWIH) is a registered Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) which was established in 2004 in Kathmandu, Nepal. The major activity of the organization is to provide a Centre for Children with Intellectual Disabilities. For example their Inclusive Development Centre (IDC) is the day care centre for learning difficulties, providing them with care home visits.
Our music therapist Shreeti Pradhan attends the care center weekly in order to provide the children with music classes.
Clarissa Crawford our resident dancer and human rights student is also teaching at AWIH weekly. Her aim is to empower the children of their human rights through the medium of dance. She said she enjoys teaching the children their rights like freedom to expression, right to life and principles like equality. Dance is a universal language and this is what makes the classes possible even with a verbal language barrier.
KCH, Kanti Childrens Hospital is a pediatric hospital in Kathmandu. It provides treatment for children till the age of 14. Music therapist Anna Joshi- van Eck is working twice a week on the burn ward of this hospital during the dressing changes. These dressing changes are very painful and Anna is using music as a tool to distract the child and decrease their pain. How often Anna sees the children depends on the severity of the wounds.
Anna experiences the benefit of music therapy during the dressing changes. In the first contact with the children, music has the strength to attract. It distracts them from their anxiety associated with their previous traumatic experiences. After the first interaction with the child Anna adjusts the music to the physical expressions and needs of the child. For example, she adjusts the rhythm to the breathing of the child and the melody to the sound of the voice of the child. This reduces the heartbeat and the muscle tension, which calms the child down. Through listening to the child and adjusting to the child you give it a sense of mastery and control in a situation where they do not have control of. Beside the Music Therapy sessions during the dressing changes Anna also give music therapy at the bedside in order to avoid that music and the music therapist are not only associated with dressing changes.
The difficulty Anna experiences has to do with the language. Although Anna can speak basic Nepali, she would like to have deeper conversations with the parents of the clients and the staff of the hospital.
Aamaghar is a children home situated in the small town Godavari at the southern side of the Kathmandu Valley. Our music teacher Jimi Joshi goes there every Saturday to teach guitar and piano. He teaches small groups of children who are between 10 and 15 years old.
Class topics inlude: the basics like chords, rhythm, fingering, so that they can play and sing by themselves as soon as possible.
The classes are very practical and hands on; the students enjoy the short hour so much they always ask if Jimi can stay longer. Jamming is another part of his work at Aamaghar, it helps students to increase their confidence level and to make them more motivated towards music and performance. Jimi and the students spend some nice time jamming together. Some students are very motivated and learn fast, others find it more difficult to focus have difficulty remembering the lessons. Jimi struggles sometimes with the different age groups in his class but with patience and kindness he is able to motivate them all.
New Life Children’s Home is another home were Jimi goes to to teach guitar lessons to around seven teenagers between 14 and 16. He teaches guitar notation, fingering exercises, chords and let's the students choose their own songs. This class takes place after regular school hours, sometimes the students arrive late or are very tired because children at Nepali schools make very long hours and have a huge amount of homework. After the part where Jimi teaches about how to play the guitar, he is also making them jam together. This is the highlight of every class. He sees they love this part of class where they can finally express themselves in a musical way and find enjoyment and fulfillment in what they are doing.
SERC, Special Education and Rehabilitation Centre is a school for children with special needs in Kathmandu. There are children with learning, behavioural or socialemotional disorders, children with physical disabilities or a combination of both. SERC provides education and rehabilitation for children between the ages of 3 and 16 years old. Every Wednesday Music Therapist Anna Joshi van Eck works in either an individual or a group setting, on both physical motor skills and on behavioural and socialemotional goals.
SERC cannot be compared with a Western similar school for children with special needs. For example, there are 8 classrooms with a minimum of 8 children, who are selected by age and not on cognitive level. The groups music therapy can be challenging because of the many different levels and disabilites in one group. The children have all different needs, mostly there is only one teacher. These teachers are not always specially trained to work with this target group.
During the music therapy sessions Anna observes that music therapy is very beneficial, especially for non verbal children and for children with a physical handicap. Making sounds and singing songs stimulates their speech and language development. It also gives them the opportunity to take the lead and to express themselves. In SERC the children with a physical disability are mostly sitting the whole day. The rhythm of the music stimulates their movements and gives them a possibility to improve their physical skills.
The word ‘’Koshish’’ means ‘’making an effort’’ in Nepali. Koshish is a Mental Health Organization that was established in 2008. It is a nongovernmental organization that helps people with a mental health illness and psychosocial problems. Most of the people who work at Koshish have experienced a mental health illness themselves. Examples of these mental illnesses are schizophrenia, depression, personal disorders, bipolar disorders and anxiety disorders. In Nepal mental health disorders are unknown and most of the time a taboo. People who suffer from mental issues are often rejected. Also the professional knowledge about psychiatry and treatment is very poor. At Koshish there is only counselling and no psychological treatment, the symptoms are suppressed by medication.
Koshish has two different departments. One is the Transit Home, a closed department, named by Koshish as ‘’House of Hope’’. The transit home offers space for twenty women who are usually rescued from the street and are getting shelter there. These women have a history of, for example domestic violence, abuse or prostitution and are all traumatized and suffering from different mental illnesses. The second department is the Peer Support Group. This is a free walk in selfhelp group, for people with mental health problems to share their experiences. The amount of people in these group varies from week to week, mostly around 15 people show up.
Every week our Music Therapist Shreeti Pradhan gives Group Music Therapy Sessions at both departments of Koshish. They have seen that making and listening to music helps the clients to relax and to escape their sorrow for a moment. In the support group they experience that music therapy, especially rhythm and physical movements (body percussion) gives them the opportunity to ground and to make contact with their bodies instead of being stuck in their heads. This gives them a feeling of strength and relief. This feeling of strength makes them capable to take musical initiatives, to express their feelings and make themselves heard.
The difficulties experienced by Shreeti is surely the lack of musical instruments. It will be great if the clients can transfer their body percussion skills into real percussion instruments.