Marysville Inmates, South African Children Bond In Unique Musical Project

Marysville Inmates, South African Children Bond In Unique Musical Project

Marysville Inmates, South African Children Bond In Unique Musical Project

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A Columbus man is in South Africa right now to see firsthand how music can heal.   

He and the children he went to visit reached across the ocean via Skype to the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, where the unusual relationship was born. 

Months ago, the Harmony Project’s David Brown read a book about how prison isolates and segregates inmates.  Believing he could change that,  he went to the Reformatory hoping to give it a meaningful soundtrack.

“Harmony’s mission is every voice matters,” said Brown.

The warden approved Brown’s plans and he began singing once a week with a group of prisoners in the Tapestry Program for drug and alcohol dependent inmates working to recover.

Brittani Lloyd is one of them.

“I never thought in 100 years I’d ever be a part of something so huge – especially at such a dark time in my life,” she said.

The something “so huge” she’s talking about is the modern day pen pal relationship the inmates have cultivated with children at a hospice in South Africa called the Sunflower House.

Some of the children are sick.  Some are dying.  Many are orphans.  The prisoners make it their mission to bring them joy.  With the Harmony Project’s Brown leading them, they sing to the kids via Skype.

The children then sing back, smile and wave.

It moves inmate Heather Ruble to happy tears.

“I’m able to be there for these children when they have nobody, and that makes it easier to forgive myself,” said Ruble, who soon will go home to her own daughter.  Lloyd will, too.

“It lets me know that one day I’ll put a smile on my own children’s faces for all the good reasons.”

Warden Roni Burkes summed it up perfectly.

“You know, music unites people,” she said, “It gives them hope.”

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