Togo: Musical empowerment for street kids

2 months ago 3205

After the divorce of his parents, Innocent's life took a different turn.

It was difficult to get along with his stepfather, so he found himself on the street, forced to sleep under the stars on a beach in Lomé. But the teenager wants to change things. He relies on his know-how to overcome the trials of life. In order to take his fate into his own hands, he took up music.

"One day, I was sleeping. And someone came to wake me up at the beach and told me that an artist called Peter Solo, a Togolese, had come to help the Togolese who are in the street because he also went through the same stage. He was in the street before becoming a famous guitarist. He came and gave us guitars so that we could learn and then do a gig. Then I thought this would be a chance for me to succeed in life too" said Adja Kodjovi Innocent.

While society seems to have turned its back on them, Togolese singer and guitarist Peter Solo is committed to bringing joy to street children.

During 3 weeks, 15 street children like Innocent were trained to play the guitar or the accordion for some. The idea was to transmit to these youngsters the love of music, and to forge in them a fighting character.

"I was like them, I slept in the street too, so I see myself in them. They sleep on the beach when you say curfew! Come in! They don't come in anywhere. We had some casualties among them so it touched me and I decided to go back, and share my knowledge, what I know how to do, which is music" explianed Peter Solo - Guitarist, founder of the band Vaudou Game.

After this training course, the group performed on one of the biggest musical shows in Togo.

The reality of these young people is experienced by nearly 15,000 people. In Togo, according to Handicap International, street people are not taken into account in any social or health protection measures.

Their situation has worsened with the covid-19 pandemic. The NGO Togo Handicap International and its partners are trying to raise awareness through projects like this one.

"Peter Solo has given a voice to people who finally have no voice in this society and who are invisible for the moment. So it's about giving them visibility, reminding people that a society is made up of diverse people and that everyone should find their place. And this concert is about reminding people that they are there but also that they need to be given opportunities to make it work. You've seen it. it works." according to Irene Manterola - Togo Handicap International Manager.

In addition to being an artistic project, the initiators think they are giving a second chance of integration to all these young people excluded from society.

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