Africa (MNN) — For one organization working in three countries in Africa, creative solutions to social injustice are the foundation of a unique ministry with a most unique name. It’s a ministry that combines culture, community, and the Great Commission. And it’s using musical instruments to battle social issues like poverty, illiteracy, and HIV/AIDS.
Poetice – a combination of the words “poetry” and “justice” – engages communities in Zambia, Lesotho, and South Africa through the arts. But it doesn’t stop there. Brad Howells of Poetice says individuals are then equipped and empowered to make a difference. “The social injustices that have just become part of their life, part of their culture, are starting to be erased; they’re breaking those things down and they’re seeing that it’s not the way of doing things, so the justice side of things is bringing new hope to people.”
Poetice has a number of ministry branches, but the one that sets the stage is their commitment to music. In Zambia, music academies launched by indigenous leaders are making futures brighter for children and young adults. “They are learning skills of how to play instruments and how to read music and how to perform with a group, but they also bring skills into other areas. They say, ‘Well, maybe I could teach, or I could become a lawyer, or maybe I can go to college. I never could do that before.'”
Alan, one of Poetice’s first students in Zambia, is now joining the staff of the academy, and Howells looks forward to working alongside him. “I met him in 2010, when I took my first trip to teach at the academy. So what started as just something to try became the instrument for him that would grow his passion for music to a passion for people and changing the world around him, which is an amazing thing to be part of.”
Community leaders assist Poetice in finding students for the music academies, with orphans and vulnerable children being a priority in enrollment. Once registered, the students learn in both small groups and through private lessons, using instruments donated in the United States.
In addition to Poetice staff and community leaders, college students and young adults from the U.S. serve through short-term mission trips and a summer internship program that, according to Howells, offers a variety of ministry activities. “They go into other communities and do other projects as well, like AIDS awareness or AIDS education, some local community agricultural projects; and the music academy is part of that too.”
There are a number of ways to join Poetice as they use creativity to invite cultural change. The first is prayer: for new facilities to accommodate the growing number of academy students, for additional financial support for the programs and staff, and for the students themselves as work is done to include accreditation for academy study.
Gently-used instruments may also be donated to Poetice’s ZIP Drive (Zambia Instrument Program). And students and young adults interested in partnering with Poetice may learn more about short-term mission trips or their summer internship program. Visit their website for great stories from the field and to get involved.