Music Basti began as the culmination of several ideas that Faith Gonsalves had for a programme she wanted to pilot. “I believe in the power of music. Music Basti, too, advocates music as a tool to create social cohesion and promote self-confidence, and self-worth among street children who may be victims of abuse or abandonment.”
The Delhi-based programme also creates a strong, creative and safe atmosphere for the children and involves musicians and students to promote awareness regarding human rights. “Music’s been important to me and I’ve been singing ever since I was a kid,” says Gonsalves who had worked with NGOs, particularly the Delhi-based YP Foundation. It was during this volunteer work that she thought of starting Music Basti. The initiative began as a programme with 70 boys at Uma Pandey Home, run by Aman Biradari (whom they still continue to work with), with various Delhi-based musicians and bands including Advaita, Five8, college societies and individuals imparting education through gigs and workshops.
Based on the impact of the programme, the project team decided to expand it. Today, the organisation has worked directly with over 200 children and 300 volunteers, and reached out to over 20,000 people in and around Delhi through its music programmes, short films and performances. The organisation also runs as a youth-led volunteer module of training, skill-building and on-location experience.
The kids, at various centres, have been treated to several performances including those by The Xylopholks — a dynamic group of musicians who play novelty ragtime music from the 1920s. They do so while wearing furry animal costumes. Recently, the kids also witnessed an evening of Indian classical music featuring a sarangi recital by Suhail Yusuf Khan with Shubh Maharaj on tabla. The Basti now wishes to take the programme to other cities. “We will take it to Mumbai soon,” says Gonsalves.