Music has always been a key part of junior Megan D’Andrea and her family’s lives. Being a part of the Main Street Singers and growing up in a family of orchestra members and piano players, Megan has always valued music. This musical interest was what prompted the D’Andrea family to host two children from the Matsiko World Orphans Choir for two days in February.
The Matsiko World Orphan Choir is a multicultural group of children who perform cultural songs and dances. It travels to orphanages around the world to gather children into the program. The leaders determine who joins by evaluating character, mental and emotional stability, and performing qualities. The program brings in troubled orphans and sends them off with school funding and aspirations to become doctors, lawyers, teachers and more.
“Giving to the community and helping in any way is something our whole family enjoys,” Megan said. “So hosting two young girls seemed natural.”
Megan and her family first got involved in the program when they heard through an online neighborhood web site that a host family was needed for children in an orphan chorus. Megan and her family readily offered to host the children.
When the two orphans, Alvina and Jennifer, arrived, Megan was surprised.
“I imagined troubled faces and distrusting body language,” Megan said. “But … they both walked up to me and hugged me very matter-of-factly. … It’s amazing that they’ve become so accustomed to bouncing around from home to home that it’s normal for them to trust their providers.”
Alvina, who is from Liberia, and Jennifer, from Peru, have both experienced painful pasts. Jennifer had spent a majority of her life on the streets away from her violent father before being admitted to the orphanage. Despite their difficulties, the two have been able to bond with others through a universal language: music.
“Alvina was full of energy and grew up with English while Jennifer was more quiet,” Megan said. “But that was only due to the language barrier because she only knew Spanish … I remember her embarrassed grins at my attempts to communicate with her through words.”
Within just two days, Megan and her family connected with the two orphans. They were able to create a bridge between their different worlds and histories and meet at a point where they could relate to each other.
“I mentioned to them that I sang in a choir,” Megan said. “Their interest in me grew and they opened up more. They found comfort in the fact that I was more similar to them than they originally expected.”
More importantly, Megan and the two girls were able to emotionally connect with each other in Megan’s own home through this experience.
“There was one time when I was playing a song for Alvina and Jennifer on the piano,” Megan said. “Alvina began humming a random tune trying to match the song being played, and Jennifer watched her, laughing. I felt connected to them with music. It’s just something that pulled us together in a world that goes beyond spoken feelings.”