The Holy Spirit often moves in unexpected ways, but his inspirations bear much fruit. The Spirit moved in the heart of a Divine Word seminarian in a unique way this year. This seminarian, Akizou Kamina SVD, was inspired to start a music program complete with guitar lessons and fellowship for the local, impoverished youth of Humaitá, Brazil. These young people are exposed to tremendous hardship, abuse and temptation, but they can be reached through their love of rhythm and music.
Keep reading to hear from Akizou to learn how and why he started the St. Arnold Janssen Music Program and what it has accomplished for the youth of Brazil.
Seminarian Akizou Kamina Shares How This Project Got Started
Akizou Kamina was born in 1987 in Togo to a family with three children. He entered formation with the Divine Word Missionaries in 2010. After completing his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in Togo, he came to the United States in 2013 to study English at Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa. One year later he entered the novitiate in Techny, where he professed first vows in 2015. After two years of theology studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Akizou participated in the Cross-Cultural Training Program by spending two years in Brazil. Akizou has returned to CTU to complete his seminary studies in preparation for his ordination to the priesthood in May 2021.
In his own words, Akizou discusses the genesis of the music project:
“After spending a short time with the young adults of Humaitá, a city in northern Brazil, I realized many of them faced great difficulties in their lives. They were turning to alcohol, drugs or worse. Wanting to find a way to help them, I came up with a musical solution.
“I was missioned to the Amazon region in the northern part of the country. I worked as youth chaplain for two Divine Word parishes and as vocation director for the diocese of Humaitá as part of my Cross-Cultural Training Program. Access to the 70 communities of the mission area is by boat. I visited the homes of many teenagers in my parish. The main parish church is located in a poor neighborhood in Humaitá. For most of the families, their only daily meal was breakfast.
“Such poverty had led many teenagers to get involved in alcohol, drugs and prostitution. In many cases, their despair led to depression. Some committed suicide. During my time in Humaitá, I counseled many youths between the ages of 12 and 18 suffering from depression. I remember having to talk to a group of teenagers who had been caught smoking weed. This pushed me to think of something that could help them.
“To keep these young adults occupied and out of trouble, I started a music project. During my first weeks at the parish, I realized that many teens liked music but that their parents couldn’t afford to hire a professor or buy a musical instrument. I was able to find a volunteer professor willing to teach guitar to about 10 kids. They had guitar classes twice a week for an hour each session. It was basically a test to see how much involvement we could get from the parents and the children themselves.
“Fortunately, it turned out well. To God be the glory! The kids were happy with their classes. They made new friends and always wanted more and more time to learn. The goal of the project was to keep them occupied with something they loved to do but could not get from their parents.
“I saw music time as a holy time. It helped the teenagers deal with difficulties at home, stay out of trouble and create new, beneficial relationships. I believe that through this project I was able to make the goodness and kindness of God visible in the lives of the teenagers of Humaitá.”
Help Us Grow This Music Program This #GivingTuesday
Now you know how seminarian Akizou Kamina heard the voice of the Spirit and obeyed. Because of this holy inspiration, a new program was born that has brought hope, healing and community into the lives of young people.
But now as the program grows, we need your help to keep it going! Your help today helps us purchase instruments, speakers and other materials we need for music classes. It will also help us pay our volunteer music teachers a small stipend to thank them for their time and expertise. These volunteer teachers spend hours each week engaging and guiding young people in their love of music.
Will you join us in offering hope, healing and music to the young people of Brazil?