“When I play the guitar and hear the sound, I have so much peace. I’m usually excited when I achieve what I have visualized in my mind,” said Kulwa, an 18-year-old Compassion student in Tanzania.
How to make a guitar
Building a guitar is a process that takes great skill and many hours to complete. But Kulwa has the patience and determination to make a career of it. He says it starts with a lot planning — visualizing and drawing it out before he carves a single piece.
But the end result of making music with what he’s created is an incredible feeling. And crafting something others will enjoy makes him treasure his hard work even more.
His twin brother, Doto, relates to this same passion when he designs his artisan bags and shoes.
“The part that I enjoy most about what I do is the designing,” said Doto. “When someone shows me a picture of what to draw or to design, it gives me inspiration. And [it] helps me think of other things that can expand my trade and become more creative.”
It’s been a difficult journey for these craftsmen.
The boys are an inspiration to others in their pursuit of creativity and joy in their work. But their paths to becoming professional craftsmen have been filled with incredible adversity.
“These young boys, Kulwa and Doto, have had a very tough life. They lived only with their mother, who eventually became sick and could not work. When their mother passed away, the children started taking care of themselves,” shared David Siwale, director of the TAG Nyakato Student Center in Tanzania
Kulwa and Doto’s local church was there for them during this time. “They have stood with me,” Kulwa said. They provided the family with meals and a ride for their mother to get to the hospital for her treatments. And after she passed, the church and their sponsors continued to care for the brothers.
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Their church gave the boys opportunities to prepare for their future.
“We were so happy and excited to partner with Compassion, to help vulnerable children in our community. We had a lot of children who were not going to school because their parents or guardians could not support them. So we thought of imparting some skills so that those children who will not be able to go on to higher levels of education will have skills to help them support themselves,” said Director Siwale.
Now, they had more than a trade, but a true passion.
“I recently saw a student wearing something that I had made. It gave me the assurance that the items that I make are being appreciated by people in the community,” Doto proudly stated.
The skills they had worked so hard to acquire gave them the opportunity of careers they would love. And they can now see a clear and exciting future for themselves.
“My plan is when I leave the [program], I will use my guitar-making skills to start my own business selling guitars,” shared Kulwa.
Crafting hope in the next generation
Kulwa and Doto want to make this dream a reality for other children in situations they were in. So they spend time with kids who’ve faced adversity, teaching them the art of these trades. They’d love the opportunity to share these skills with children in communities all over Tanzania.
“I feel like it is my duty to give back to others, to the children who have gone through tough times, just like I have experienced. The church and Compassion stood by me, helped me, so there’s no point in keeping what I have learned to myself. I need to give it freely to others,” said Kulwa.
“If the church had not been here in this area, and if we had not partnered with Compassion … I don’t think these children would have achieved what they have so far … What they have been able to achieve is so great. It makes me want to continue to do more to support them,” shared Director Siwale.