For this epistle I have handed over diary entry duty to my good friend the Poet from Liverpool Mx
Well, here we are in downtown Ottawa giving our impression of Jake and Ellery aka The Snooze Brothers….without the hats, or energetic stage dancing although there’s been a fair amount of that business from yours truly on this fascinating and fulfilling Canadian tour. As we enter the third and final week we’ve become old road hands whizzing up and down Highway 401 in Southern Ontario from Ottawa in the east to our furthest Western point, Strathroy.
For aficionados of the motor vehicle we have been ferried about in this big bloke of a jeep?…truck?…SUV?…anyway it’s a sort of diluted Ribena colour complete with one singer-songwriter, one poet, one outstanding and tireless tour manager, logistics and product princess, Nikki, and completing the quartet, World Vision’s Artist Associate wallah, the exceptional Brandon Foreman in charge of lights, driving, all round coffee consultant and egg of the utmost goodness.
‘Because We Can’ has adapted very well to a new transatlantic audience if the reaction of the crowd at The Roxy in Acton last Thursday is anything to go by. And the town being named, presumably, after the West London district adjacent to Shepherds Bush, I informed our beloved throng that Acton was where musical theatre composer, Lionel Bart ended his days….How they adored my magpie like accumulation of knowledge….how they collectively scratched their heads and politely whispered ‘what on earth is this garbled bard on about?’
Anyway, the focus for this World Vision tour has been for Martyn and his sidekick to encourage audiences to consider child sponsorship as a means of enabling young citizens in the developing world to be educated as a way of delivering them from the cruel censure of poverty. Having seen child sponsorship programmes work first hand in Thailand and The Philippines I can testify that this method of monetary stewardship gives childre n the potential to develop and go on to become adults who can positively contribute to their respective cultures in areas such as health, education, agriculture, social work and all the other important areas of national welfare which we take for granted.
At some of the shows, such as last night’s in Mississauga, we were privileged to have the delightful, exuberant and life affirming presence of one young woman who is a testimony to the child sponsorship enterprise. Teriano hails from Kenya and is Maasai by birth and upbringing. Whilst passionately applauding the positive aspects of her culture, being female Teriano explained to us that this automatically marginalized her as not requiring schooling. Through the persistence of her remarkable mother, and Teriano’s single-mindedness to honour her intellectual potential through the child sponsorship programme, Teriano achieved first class grades in primary school and is now completing her higher education here in Canada and exhibiting similar distinctions. This will see her returning to her home country in order to encourage the education of females in the emerging continent of Africa and give them the opportunity to excel in their given field.. Not bad for a sparkling young woman from a village without electricity and running water and who because of her gender was expected to, health allowing, take on the expected, subservient domestic tasks.
So far the number of people taking out child sponsorship commitments is running at 33 and there are still gigs to come. It’s a number which exceeds the assessment World Vision was working on percentage wise, so all in all the partnership between us and WV is something which goes beyond the word worthwhile. And on a personal note I’d like to thank Martyn and Mike Bowman, Artist Associate Programme Director for inviting me to be part of this humbling adventure.
So, tonight is Kingston, not upon Thames, or Jamaica but a historic university city which in 1956 saw a bunch of students ‘invade’ America as under the cover of darkness they slipped across the border and padded about nearby Watertown in New York State replacing the ‘Stars and Stripes’, fluttering above public buildings, with Union flags…students, eh. Whilst on contentious political matters, how did the election go?…we’ve been away a while…is Gladstone still Prime Minister?