We recently had the pleasure of interviewing our dear sister and colleague, Betty Akidi, who has served as a community provider of therapeutic music engagement for 6 years in Uganda.
Although Music Therapy has yet to be established in her country, Betty had extensive exposure to the field outside of Uganda and has interacted and collaborated with Board Certified Music Therapists. Here she describes how this has impacted her life, her career and the lives of those she's worked with.
Q: Tell us about the people you have helped as a community provider of therapeutic music engagement?
A: I have worked with Teachers, children with Nodding Syndrome, children and adults with HIV and AIDS, and the youths that were abducted by LRA. I have helped children in mental health and done music therapy in churches and hospitals.
Q: How have these groups reacted and responded to the music engagement you brought to them?
A: The youths and the community response was good and encouraging because both the children, youths and the adults took part in most of the activities like; dances, songs, drama acting following a given rhythm.
On the other hand some of the few people in the community also responded negatively in a way that music therapy seemed to be something new so most of the people in Uganda...whereby some of the parents in the community restricted their children and denied them access to the music therapy leaving them ignorant about it.
Betty presenting during a music therapy workshop for Lira Health Alliance in Lira, Northern Uganda
Q: What are some of the challenges you faced in doing your work?
A: Language barriers whereby it was quite difficult to translate most of the songs to the local language of the given community.
Inadequate financial support from both the internal and external sources.
Poor transport facilities like poor road networks and lack of transport means to travel up country to share music therapy.
Negative attitudes by some of the people in the communities whereby some parents denied their children access to the music therapy.
Physical and mental weakness among some of the people in the community hindered music therapy.
Lack of western instruments.
Q: How has being recognized in society as a trained and well-rounded provider of therapeutic music engagement impacted your life?
A: It has helped me to step out of poverty. Through it I have come to learn and speak many languages universally. It built confidence and potential music skills in me. It has helped me to get associated with the different classes and categories of people both locally and internationally.
It has also helped me to learn and overcome the different problems that the society goes through, e.g in northern part of Uganda, most of the people are traumatized due to the insurgency.
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Betty's program at Hope for Humans in Odek, Uganda made a huge impact for children with Nodding Syndrome.