We've covered 676 kilometres around the country so far and we are leaving Bacau at dawn tomorrow to head off further East to Vaslui. But today was inspirational!
We spent it with our Local Partners from Fundatia de Sprijin Comunitar. We observed a session run by Lenuta. In 1998 she was an enthusiastic and sensitive participant in our training. Today she is an incredibly skilled music leader and trainer of national repute - as we've travelled the country our other Local Partners have often cited her team's leadership as a hugely motivating force. Today we saw her successfully engaging 16 children with varying degrees of disability in music-making and interaction, despite not having worked with them before (it was a specially arranged demonstration session for us, involving any of the centre's children who were not on holiday). We saw a level of understanding of children, responsiveness to their needs and musicality which left us in no doubt as to why she has so successfully trained over 1,500 care staff around the country to use music as therapy.
We saw also several filmed individual sessions run by another participant in our 1998 training project, Mariana, who works with challenging children with complex autism. She used the instruments with care and thoughtfulness. Her complete engagement in the music-making enabling her to make a real connection with children she told us were difficult to reach at other times.
In the afternoon, Alexia and I were invited to open a session at a day centre for elderly people. We invited the participants to sing songs from their lives and play musical instruments, following which our Local Partners facilitated a supportive discussion between them. Despite some reticience at first, all were involved in playing, singing or talking about their experiences:
"I was tired this morning. Now I feel full of energy."
"I'm sorry I cried, but it made me think of my life before."
I was overwhelmed by the work I saw today, and reflected that the Music as Therapy International project back in 1998 - and their support ever since - really has played an important part in setting these Local Partners on their way to becoming the respected music as therapy practitioners and trainers they are today. Lenuta herself told us, "When I have had problems, I imagine myself in the skin of my Music as Therapy trainer."
I'm now looking forward to meeting the staff at the Scoala pentru Surzi in vaslui tomorrow, where I was one of the two therapists to deliver their introductory training project in 2005. Because of a complicated travel schedule, we may now be off line for a couple of days. Off to set my alarm clock!
Becca and Alexia