Children glow as they sing while helping people in poverty at Oxfam Musical Marathon
By Nancy Loo
To me and many people around the world, music has a beautiful power.
There is nothing like music to cheer us up, or to calm us down.
In my more than 30 years of teaching in Hong Kong, I have seen music transform thousands of people, bringing out their best qualities, their humanity.
And in my 20 years with Oxfam Musical Marathon, I have seen how children glow as they share music with the public.
I know that Oxfam sometimes employs music to reach people with important messages. Many poor people may not be able to read, and music can be an effective and fun way to communicate.
For migrant workers in China, music can be a means of self-expression. Four workers from Suzhou recently performed the song “Moving” (搬家) at the annual Workers’ Spring Festival Show in Beijing supported by Oxfam Hong Kong. Through music and movements, they described the life of migrant workers who have to constantly move and change jobs, and the helpless feeling that comes along with it all.
Four members from the “Home of Suzhou Workers” singing about the hardships of migrant workers
Music can be a tool for social change.In China, Sun Heng and his rock band composed of migrant workers – New Labor Art Troupe (新工人藝術團) – sings about labour law and workers’ integrity. The band has even performed right at factories where people work. While talks and meetings about labour may not always be welcomed by the employers, the Troupe manages to communicate the same message through song. For more: http://www.oxfam.org.hk/en/one_413.aspx
Sun Heng and his band gives free performances at construction sites, canteens, city squares and wherever migrant workers gather.
In Ghana, Hong Kong singers Anthony Wong and Ellen Loo joined farmers to sing about the need for trade justice: http://www.oxfam.org.hk/en/tradejustice.aspx. In Wong’s own words: “To me, music is the most convenient way to communicate with people…I don’t know how to fight a war, and my negotiation skills are not good. Music is my biggest platform, my best weapon. When there s a social problem, I use music to say what I think.” (Excerpted from The Possible – 30 Stories, a book published by Oxfam Hong Kong in 2006)
Anthony Wong and Ellen Loo singing in solidarity with farmers in Ghana
Music can also be a way to rally support and solidarity. Last year, Oxfam went on tour with Oxfam Global Ambassador Coldplay, during which Oxfam asked Coldplay fans from London to Los Angeles to join the GROW food justice movement to make our system of producing and consuming food fairer for everyone.
From my involvement with Oxfam Musical Marathon over the years, I see how music can bring joy to people – performers and audience alike – while helping people in need. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that each note and chord being played during the event brings together people living in different corners of the world. We may not know each other; we may never have the chance to meet, but through music, we are all connected, beautifully and powerfully.
Nancy Loo (right) and singer-songwriter Peco Tsui performing a piano duet at the Opening of Oxfam Musical Marathon
Oxfam Ambassador Nancy Loo has been a part of the annual Oxfam Musical Marathon since 1993. The event brings together musicians of all ages to perform in public while raising funds to help poor people work their way out of poverty. For more:http://www.oxfam.org.hk/en/musicalmarathon.aspx