Music with Asylum Seekers

May 4th, Me and David Sorensen went down to a church in Phoenix that cannot be named with clothes and musical instruments including my portable piano. The picture that says “Music – God’s answer was written by Dave, a veteran who had fallen from a plane and lost his ability to speak. He wrote it just as we were leaving.

This is what Jen Buck director of ALL Hands AZ had to say about the weekend. A quick disclaimer: David Sorensen is a licensed music therapist, but I am not.

“This weekend was one for the record books.

Friday, we provided hospitality for 100 asylum-seekers, then another 50 on Saturday, and another 23 on Sunday. While this may seem like an ordinary number, with the ordinary crew of volunteers, in our ordinary space, this weekend was anything but ordinary. In fact, I will go as far as saying that this weekend was absolutely, undoubtedly, completely, and utterly extraordinary.

We had a huge amount of toys, which meant that there was a lot of playing and interaction with the kiddos. But, even that is how things ordinarily look. The kids squealed and giggled as they rode on our favorite security guard, Dave’s, scooter; also totally ordinary (and completely joy-inducing). The people were incredibly emotional and grateful, but again, fairly ordinary.

What added to making it extraordinary is that we had music therapists who showed up with about 15 different instruments, as well as a huge bag of about 50 percussion pieces, and they proceeded to get everyone in the whole building involved in the healing and connecting, through the music, for five hours. We sang, we danced, we hit our drums and shook our tambourines. We clapped, and chanted, and moved our bodies. We laughed and smiled to the point that our faces hurt. We were serenaded through a meal and then got to join in on the concert; John Lennon, The Beatles, La Bamba, the list goes on and on. There was even a birthday celebration in the evening, with cake, music, and a piñata that the kids got to scramble to devour and enjoy. The emotion and joy that was felt by everyone was palpable. Saying goodbye was gut-wrenching and, yet, incredibly beautiful and hopeful. We even had a family ask to stay with us and not leave. Oooooooof.

Sunday morning, we were told that there were another 23 who were dropped at the bus station and needing help. So, we sprung into action and our drivers converged on the scene to pick these people up and bring them out to Marta’s ranch. Once there, we relaxed, we shared, we connected, and got to hear each other‘s stories. The kids played with goats, chickens, and ducks, and were able to run around and be carefree, lively, joyful kids, again.

As I’m thinking over this weekend and the multiple gifts that I received, I was yet again reminded of how fortunate I am to do what I’m doing. What we’re doing is life-changing not just for others, but for those of us who are choosing to do this work. If you have thought about getting involved, but have been on the fence, I encourage you to jump in. Stop waiting and just say Yes. This past 5 1/2 months has been the honor of my (almost!) 49 years on this planet. The love, emotion, connections, empathy, and deep friendships that I’m experiencing are things that I feel undeserving of, but incredibly and overwhelmingly grateful for.

Thank you, all, for making this All Hands AZ experience EXTRAORDINARY”.