In This IssueWhat's New at Kalimba MagicThe Kalimba in Music TherapyThe Amadinda, a Traditional African MarimbaWonderful New Music on the 8-Note KalimbaInterview with Andrew Tracey, director emeritus of ILAMKalimba CommunityOur Visit to Grahamstown Hospice in Africa

Our Visit to Grahamstown Hospice in Africa

This is another installment of the story of our trip to South Africa. You can read more in last month's Newsletter, and we will be sharing more in the coming months. Next month, we will have an interview with Christian Carver, director of AMI.

Grahamstown Hospice
Mark Holdaway of Kalimba Magic with David Barker, director of Grahamstown Hospice in Grahamstown, South Africa.

I have done some hospice music here in Tucson AZ, and I know a hospice pastor in Colorado, Lisa Motz-Story, who also has helped get hospice going in Africa, and she inspired us to go and visit the hospice in Grahamstown, South Africa when we went there in June 2008.

We spent about 45 minutes with David Barker, the director of the Grahamstown Hospice, and we have a goal of providing money to fund a Social Worker for GH, starting in 2010. You may not be aware of the extended functions of hospice in South Africa, where half of the dying people are between 20 and 40, dying of AIDS and associated illnesses—people in the prime of their lives, often people who are no longer able to support their family, so the social worker position is very important for hospice to fulfill their mission of helping the entire family through the death process.

We were talking with Penny, the fundraiser person at GH, and she mentioned about the importance of the ancestors in African spirituality, and THAT was the connection to the kalimba that needed to be made that I had not made myself. You see, the kalimba's ancestor, the MBIRA, is specifically used to help communicate with the spirits of the ancestors, and that vibe continues over to the kalimba. Penny was saying that if someone is dying and they don't have proper pain meds, they are wailing in pain, and family members are sometimes put off from showing loving support. Ditto for diapers—if the dying person soils themselves and they stink, family members are put off—and then when they die, the family members have great guilt and an awkward situation with their new ancestor. SO, one of the main roles of hospice in Africa is in keeping good order for the living and the ancestors. This is THE connection with the kalimba that I needed to step forward without looking back, and Penny had no idea how what she was saying hooked into my life and Kalimba Magic—that is, untill I told her that her words had just sealed the deal.

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