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FIELD BAND FOUNDATION TURNS 10! (article first published : 2007-09-28)

South Africa’s hugely popular Field Band Foundation celebrates its tenth anniversary as hundreds of young people from around the country converge on Turffontein Race Course in Johannesburg on September 29 for the Foundation’s annual national championships.

One of South Africa’s most successful developmental self-help programmes using music and dance, the Foundation began in 1997 with five projects and 600 members. Today it boasts an incredible 28 projects and 4,000 members.

Through the various programmes run by the Foundation, thousands of young people have become self-sustaining, contributing members of society as a result of the leadership, development and education values instilled by the Foundation.

“However charitable our cause, it has never been about handouts” says CEO Retha Cilliers. ”The steadfast emphasis has been on rewarding honesty, commitment, hard work and dedication. It has been up to each child to live up to the challenge, grab the opportunity with both hands and hold onto it with all the courage and might it requires, to stay on the course. Apart from the transformational power of music and dance, an unrelenting emphasis on self-discipline integrity, responsibility has proved invaluable in growing talent, building character and transforming individuals’ futures.

“The foundation, together with Aganang, its HIV partner, have develop a successful HIV/AIDS programme that has resulted in significantly lower incidences of infection among band members than that in the surrounding communities,” adds Retha Cilliers. “Through the programme, children are able to change behaviour by helping them focus on how to achieve their future goals. The members are given incentives through bursaries and scholarships to enable them to attain these dreams.

“Over the years we have also developed exchange programmes with international organisations which has enabled our young members to travel abroad to further their skills and life experiences. In particular our Norwegian friends in the Norges Musikkorps Forbund programme, supported by Fredskorpset, enabled our top talent to spend a year in Toneheim Folkehoy Skule and working with bands all over the country. It also brings Norwegians annually to South Africa to work here with our youth.

“The annual national championship is the event towards which all the bands work. It is the final cherry on the top which showcases their extraordinary skills,” Retha concludes. “Their delight and energy at the event is tangible and well worth experiencing!”

In celebration of the tenth anniversary the Foundation has produced a CD with much-loved South African trumpeter, teacher and musician Brian Thusi. The national championships take place at Turffontein Race Course in Johannesburg on September 29 from 09h00. Members of the public are most welcome to attend.

More information from Retha Cilliers on 083 775 4348 or visit www.fieldband.org.za




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