The Milk Of Human Kindness..

June 8, 2011

I lurk in/frequent an acoustic musician forum  for folk that play or enjoy or build (and sometimes all three!) acoustic instruments like guitars, mandolins, Bozoukis and the like (even the occasional banjo – but mostly it’s musical instruments 😉 ). It is my first port of call for advice on matters musical and, I hope, I contribute to the forum as well as just receiving advice and information from it. Every now and again we have a ‘forum project’. This can be anything from a songwriting session, to a get-together or, more likely, a project that invites us to do our own interpretation of a song or a musician and pst so that others can hear and learn. They’re tremendous fun – we;’ve ‘done’ the Eagles, Beatles, Christmas.. loads of stuff. It’s a great place to virtually hang around with some nice friendly people.

I have learned, at some cost, that unless you have a really good case then guitars and airlines don’t mix. I am extremely wary about taking my ‘good’ guitars on planes – well, I just don’t do it any more!

S0 I was faced with something of a quandary with regards to this summer’s Kids and Youth camps in Israel/Palestine. Music can be an important part of these camps, singing songs and hymns – learning them as well as teaching them – music provides a bond and a focus. It can calm down and it can energise and excite and I really wanted to take a guitar with me this year.

But what would be best? A travel guitar can sometimes fit in the overhead locker which means it can be taken as hand luggage on some airlines which would mean I could look after it, or maybe I should get a cheap guitar with a good flight case?

Naturally I turned to the Forum for advice and started a new thread explaining my quandary.

As expected, I received lots of useful advice and tips and then one member, out of the blue, suggested a new type of forum project – a “let’s pledge money so that Leo can get a guitar which he can leave over in Jerusalem with Jerusalem Arc for future camps and leaders to make use of” project.

I was really touched. I thought I might get enough to get a cheapo guitar and a good case, or maybe buy one over there (which would mean I could get a better guitar as it wouldn’t need a flight case.)

You need to know that most of these people have never met me. I know some of them through passing on the Traveller or Taran guitars on their roadtrips and, of course Dave White is building me my 50th birthday present guitar but most don’t know me from Adam. And have no links with religion, church or faith – but do have a belief that music can help kids and young people express themselves, and a strong desire to share their love of music.

So, 24 hours after the ‘project’ was suggested, I have pledges totalling more than £450! A bit of research into guitar shops in Israel suggest that, far from leaving Jerusalem Arc with one guitar – I’ll be able to leave them with at least 2 (and strings, capos, straps …)

What do these folk want in return? Nothing, absolutely nothing. “A few pictures would be nice – maybe a recording”


The milk of human kindness does not run dry. Occasionally, in places where you don’t really expect it to, it overflows.

Many, many thanks, folks. you’ve asked to remain anonymous, but you know who you are.


UPDATE: I have now got a total of £600, plus some strings and a humidifier 🙂

Kids 4 Hope

July 20, 2010

It’s 30 degrees outside and I’m sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of the Notre Dame Centre opposite Jerusalem’s New Gate putting the finishing touches to the programme for Kids4Hope, a summer camp organised by Jerusalem Ark. I was first involved with the programme in 1996 (during Israel’s war with Lebanon) and have stayed involved ever since, thanks to the generosity if the United Reformed Church and North Western Synod. This year the camp is smaller than usual (only 28 kids instead if the usual 40) because Jerusalem Ark has not been able to get sufficient funding and have had to leave some children disappointed. The programme is focussing on 3 areas:
1. The children as individuals
2. The churches from which they come
3. The situations and communities to which they will return.

With a mixture of Bible studies, games, discussions and activities, along with visits to the holy sites in Israel, it will be hard work for all involved but, hopefully, fun, too.

Some of the children with whom John Brown (URC Youth Development Officer) first worked now help out at the kids camp as young leaders. If proof was ever needed as to the value if this work; that is it.

Acknowledging the value of the young people, but constrained by the travel restrictions placed upon them by the Israeli authorities, Jerusalem Ark have developed a further camp, Youth4Hope, to develop young leaders from towns and villages in the West Bank. Funding for this venture, now in its 3rd year, has always been difficult and we have been extremely grateful to a charitable trust in Cheshire the last 2 years. This year, the programme is receiving financial support from a Catholic Diocese in Germany. Next year? Who knows? If your church is looking for a project to support (with even a small donation) that helps develop community leadership amongst young Christians in the Holy Land then I hope you will get in touch with me do that I can out YOU in touch with Jerusalem Ark! Your prayers are, as ever, very welcome, too.