Travel isn’t always about the destination, sometimes it is about the journey, and three years ago when 21-year old University of Victoria School of Music student Laura How visited Zambia with her family it started a journey that continues today.
While traveling through Africa with her parents, twin brother and younger brother, How visited the St. Nicholas Orphanage and elementary school at the Makeni Centre in Lasaka, Zambia.
“We got to know the 30 kids,” said How. “The youngest was a newborn. He was a very cute baby, but unfortunately he had HIV/AIDS so he required a lot more support and it was hard to know how he would be doing once we left.”
Through a student who recently went down to the African AIDS Angels (AAA) supported centre, How and her family saw pictures of the now toddler who is doing well. “He seems to be a very happy child, which is exciting,” said How.
During two weeks at the Makeni Centre, the Hows went to the local school the orphans attended and watched as they killed and cleaned chickens.
“They really do cook and eat pretty much every part of that bird,” said How. “They can’t waste any meat because they only get the chickens once a week.”
Experiencing how the orphans in Zambia lived compared to her life at home made her realize how fortunate she was, which set her in motion to become involved with AAA.
AAA is a volunteer-run charity that supplies food, shelter, medical care and education for families affected by AIDS in Malawi, Zambia and South Africa.
“It wasn’t until I got back from Africa that I became involved with African AIDS Angels and began making presentations to different schools about the projects,” she said.
How – who is now on the AAA board of directors and is an active member of the youth engagement committee – visits local schools equipped with a PowerPoint presentation and teaches elementary students about the projects in Africa. She also leads angel making workshops.
And on Feb. 24, How will take the excitement she first had when she returned from Zambia and combine it with her other longterm passion – music.
How is a fourth year student at the University of Victoria majoring in piano. She has been playing the piano for 14 years.
“When I returned from Africa I was really excited about the possibility of supporting the orphans in Zambia, and I was looking to see whether we could make a larger, longer lasting impact,” she said. “I know that our angel sales do very well, but there is a limited market for that so we are looking at other options to support our projects.”
Combining her passions, How began organizing the Music for Africa event.
Along with fellow musicians from the School of Music, in addition to Victoria Conservatory of Music students and community musicians, How will take the stage playing a classical music repertoire including Bach, Beethoven and Schubert.
“One of the really exciting performers we have is Eehjoon Kwan,” said How. “She was the 2012 young soloist at Symphony Splash.”
How’s younger brother Nathan will also been sharing the stage.
Nathan – a Grade 12 student at Mount Douglas Secondary – plays trombone with his school concert and jazz bands, and sings in both the school’s men’s and mixed voice choirs.
The performance will also feature a silent auction with items donated by the community such as tickets to Ballet Victoria’s Secret Garden and the Pacific Opera Victoria’s Tosca.
Music for Africa is on Feb. 24 at 11 a.m. at the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall at the University of Victoria.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and are available at Ivy’s Bookshop, Long and McQuade or at the door.
For more information about AAA visit their website at aidsangelsvictoria.ca.