I had the chance to meet 3 very nice guys from Spain, and 2 of them are volunteering in one of the 6 schools for Burmese refugees here in KL. The night of my first open mic at the Warehouse, Iago asked me if i wanted to come to the school and play some music for the kids: i was there the very next day !
This school is located at 10 minutes walk from Bukit Bintang, but it’s so hidden away amongs the vegetation and tall buildings, that a lot of people don’t even know about this place, plus, the location of the school is not disclosed on purpose. As soon as we arrived a couple of kids were running toward us, shouting with joy, and jumped on us with big hugs.
This school provides education and shelter to very young Christian Burmese children. There are about 50 kids here, and they had to flee from their country as they’re not accepted in the community for being Christians. many of them will never return to Myanmar. Learning good english is the only way for them to be able to get a life somewhere else: once they will be 14 years old, they might go to complete their education in Australia, USA and other countries where they will be able to build up a future.
As soon as i’ve arrived, they saw the guitar and started to asking me to play straight away. So i sat down and played few catchy reggae songs: i was amazed by the musical ear of some of these kids. Especially two girls, they were reading my lips, and singing along to obscure ska and reggae stuff they probably never heard before: once they heard a word, they were able to guess the next rhyme. After few funny tunes, one of the girls asked me if i couls play “Wonderwall”, and as back in England this is a song that you learn to hate, for so many people ask for this only one request, i’ve never really bothered to learn it properly. So i told her that i knew the chords and the chorus but i did’nt know the lyrics on the verses. “No problem..!”, she said, and came back after a minute with a little book, with the song’s lyrics handwritten.
So we started again, this time with the whole bunch of kids singing along. It’s hard to feel something better than sharin music with such pure souls. They were all trying to sing and partecipate, and their tiny voices made me think for a moment of the tough reality they come from, and the day do day life they deal with: no family, in such a big city, away from home and culture, but so smiling and radiating an incredible energy.
Some of them, like the little Joshua, can play a little guitar and they are so incredibly talented and gifted: we’ve been singing few ska songs, and after 4 days when i went back to the school with some more friends, they asked me about the “lion song” (King of Kings, Prince Buster), or the “kopi song”, (One Cup Of Coffee, Bob Marley).
Despite their troubled past, these kids seem to be very happy and serene, and i feel this is a very good environment for them. They play together all the time, share all they have and are well looked after by the teachers and volunteers. Beside the English, they still studying their own native language, and some of them are involved in sports and other activities.