Twelve-year-old Usman Shaikh, a slum dweller from Deonar, was not quite sure who Brett Lee is even after meeting him on Tuesday.
“I’ve heard he is a famous musician,” said Shaikh, unwittingly giving the Australian fast bowler a compliment he would have liked.
Lee, who has established a parallel career in music, launched his non-profit foundation ‘Mewsic’ on Tuesday to help Shaikh and other underprivileged children get access to musical education.
The launch was held at the Deonar dumping ground, where the first Community Mewsic Centre was inaugurated for children of Govandi slums through a partnership with the education NGO Pratham. More than 30 children were enrolled at the Centre on the first day.
“I am passionate about music and I love India, which is like my second country that I have been visiting regularly for 17 years. This is my way of giving something back to India,” said Lee who hopes that Mewsic sets up at least 10 centres in Mumbai by the end of the year and many more across the country in the next five years.
“Music has helped me through some tough times and if it can help bring some light in the lives of these children and bring them out of the slums, it will be a great achievement,” added Brett, who strummed the guitar for a group of slum children at the launch.
At Community Mewsic centres, underprivileged children from age 8 to 16 will be taught instruments such as the guitar, keyboard, drums and also singing and dancing.
The Foundation has also partnered with The Music Therapy Trust, a Delhi-based non-profit that conducts clinical music therapy sessions to help adults and children from marginalised backgrounds to heal emotional wounds.
Mewsic’s future plans include giving slum children an opportunity to express themselves through songwriting, music composition and choreographing for their own music videos.
For now, Shaikh and his friends from the Pratham centre are more than excited about joining Mewsic. “I want to learn the guitar,” said Shaikh.