To the Beat of a Djembe Drum

Introducing Long Term Volunteer Ellen Morales

Because of your generosity, the children in ICC’s care receive love, medical attention, therapy, education, nutrition, and family style homes. It’s our long term volunteers who steward these tremendous resources with wisdom and discernment and go the extra mile to serve the children in ways they would never receive in the government-run institution. 

Long term volunteer, Ellen Morales (pictured above) who lives in Changsha, tells us she has no music ability, and never had much interest in learning how to play an instrument. That is, until she kept bumping into opportunities for the children to learn and play music. 

When one of the girls, Du Yun Hua, wanted to learn how to play the zither (gu zheng), a Chinese stringed instrument, Ellen took her to her lessons and learned enough of the instrument to help her play. Despite the challenges of her disability, Hua persevered to learn the instrument. She passed her first exam and is ready to take her grade three exam. Under Ellen’s tutelage she learned that she could save her money and is ready to pay for her own exam. Understanding the value of money in exchange for learning the instrument has helped Hua feel like she has accomplished even more. 

Ellen helped a young boy who was keen to learn the piano. Blind from birth, he was determined to learn so Ellen arranged for lessons and supported him while he practiced. He has become quite good at it despite his visual limitations. He is intuitive and has an excellent ear to hear the right notes and is determined to find the right keys. This not only teaches him that he is able beyond his disability, it also expands his cognitive development by developing keen auditory functions. 

Ellen sees the value in the children learning musical instruments as she can see their joy in creating music and accomplishing something they didn’t know they could do when they started. And music kept following her around so she started to pay more attention and listen to what God might have in store for more children. 

In recent months she kept seeing djembe (pronounced “jem-bay”) drums — in magazines and advertisements, they kept crossing her path. She decided to see if it was a good option to teach the children how to play but she couldn’t find a teacher so she set it aside for a while. Then she came across a djembe store in Changsha when she was looking for something else. She went in to find out the cost of one and talked to the owner about ICC and the children, and the owner was so moved by what ICC does that she gave Ellen two drums for free! Ellen took the initiative to pay for lessons so she could teach the children, but the owner gave her lessons for free too! 
We are so grateful for Ellen’s time and dedication to the children. And we are so grateful to you for your generosity so that the children are cared for and loved and ready for opportunities like learning to play an instrument.

We need volunteers like Ellen to live and serve in China! This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to impact lives is at your fingertips. Visit our volunteer page for more information.