A new artist, his free music and the sad situation in the DRC

I discovered a new artist! He’s not “new” per se, he’s been around the block and has had a very illustrious career as a singer-songwriter for over a decade, I have only just recently found out about him on Noisetrade. Noisetrade is a music “exchange” platform whereby artists put their music out for free for a period of time and people can choose to tip them (or not) for their music.

What’s different about Josh Garrels‘s offering is that all of the proceeds that come from tips on his albums during these two weeks on Noisetrade will go to support the work of World relief  – an organization that works with local churches in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) to provide hope and healing to the Congolese people.

I had previously heard stories and seen videos of civil war that continues to engulf the Democratic Republic of Congo, but is is so easy to overlook because there is so little news coverage on it. Through this artist, I was recently reminded of the situation in the DRC: countless number of Congolese have died in this war and hundreds and thousands more Congolese lives continue to be subject to war and its attendent problems of starvation and malnutrition, homelessness as well as to unspeakable acts of violence and torture committed by the rebel troops.

The “2nd Congo war”  as it is called, started in 1998 and is the deadliest war in the world since WWII, having claimed over 5.4 million lives. In spite of  these staggering numbers, there is virtually little or no news coverage about it on the major news channels. As such the cries of the people in the DRC go unheard, while the rest of the world remains oblivious to the incredible suffering of the people in the DRC and the rampant evil committed with impunity by military groups.

Today after finding out about Josh Garrels noisetrade, I clicked on the World relief in Congo site and from there, I read more articles about the country that deeply shocked and saddened me:

“[the] wars in that country have claimed nearly the same number of lives as having a 9/11 every single day for 360 days, the genocide that struck Rwanda in 1994, the ethnic cleansing that overwhelmed Bosnia in the mid-1990s, the genocide that took place in Darfur, the number of people killed in the great tsunami that struck Asia in 2004, and the number of people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — all combined and then doubled.”

– “Why the World Is Ignoring Congo” – Vava Tampa, founder of Save the Congo

The DRC is also called the “Rape Capital of The World” because of how rape is used as a weapon of war there. Women who go to the fields to collect food or those who go to the woods to collect firewood are systematically raped and tortured on a daily basis .

The daily choice these women face is either, to stay at home and face starvation. Or, go out to the fields for food and be raped. Most women chose the latter.

It has become a generational norm, and thousands of women and girls are raped daily because of this impasse. The nightmare does not end there, the same women and girls who were brutally raped and tortured are later on stigmatized and made outcasts by their society, leaving with them with little recourse but to be exposed to the same senseless violence again and again.

The depth of their suffering is so far removed from what any of us know, or will ever know. But here is what we can do to help these women in the DRC: we can tip Josh Garrels for his music on noisetrade or we can just choose to give directly to the World Relief fund, which works with local churches to offer shelter, healing and support to these women

You can each out to give hope to the people of the DRC through this simple act of giving. It will only take a few minutes of your life, but can change the course of many lives in the DRC if you would give and help to spread the word.

PS

The words in red are active links that you can click on to go to the sites and articles that I have mentioned.

Pets

Time flies! It’s already March of 2013. The last time I made a blogpost seems like eons ago, apologies for my long absence. I am currently putting the finishing touches on producing an animal/doggy song for one of my pledgers, who had specially requested to have a song written for his wife’s upcoming birthday. His wife is a real animal lover and he asked that I write a song about their five dogs. I finished recording and producing the song last week and Esteban has been hard at work mixing this song. We should be done by the end of today. Thank you Esteban!

In writing this song I adopted a more simple, direct approach, especially with respect to the melodies, chords and lyrics I used, it’s a departure from my usual writing style but one that allows me to embrace a child-like simplicity in song-writing as well as to engage the animal lover in me. Admittedly, I am not a dog lover and writing this song has thus been a challenge as well as an eye-opener for me: I have had to put myself in the shoes of someone who really loves dogs.

In order to aid my imaginative process, I read up on articles written by pet and dog owners and tried to recall what the many dogs we used to have in my childhood and early teenage years used to be like. Some thoughts and insights have stayed on with me. One insight, in particular that stuck out to me  is that to open yourself up to loving and truly caring for a dog is to expose yourself  to heartache and grief, because their life-span rarely exceeds 10 years.

In spite of us having dogs when I was younger, sadly, I have never known what it is to truly love and care for a dog. And while I have always gravitated more towards cats, I am unfortunately, allergic to them: within a few minutes of being exposed to cat hair, I get red and itchy and I start to sneeze.

Apart from dogs, we also had cats at home when I was younger. The only reason why keeping cats wasn’t a serious health-risk for me back then was because they rarely spent time at home, preferring to roam the streets instead from morning till night, only to return for dinner and a warm place to sleep. Like my father put it, they treated our home like, “a hotel.” Still, I often ended up with red eyes and rashes after each time I played with our cats.

I don’t know if I will ever keep pets again, but instead of pets, I am now keeping plants: I have developed a fondness for succulents or ‘fat plants’ as they are sometimes called. They are easy to look after, very affordable and to top it off, they’re quiet and very pretty. Here’s a picture of my fatties. They certainly bring a smile to my face whenever I see them. 🙂

I love my fatties!