On Sunday, February 24, Northwestern Medicine DeKalb Hospice hosted its 8th annual fundraiser for its South African partner, Knysna Sedgefield Hospice. The fundraiser, “Transformation through Rhythm”, was a concert featuring percussion music by the DeKalb High School Percussion Ensemble, Northern Illinois University Percussion Ensemble, and Harambee African Percussion Ensemble. About 300 people attended the event, some for the first time, some for the fifth time, and some for an admirable eighth time— since the concert’s inauguration. The concert proved a success, raising over $1500 which will support the work of Knysna Sedgefield Hospice.
The festivities began with an inspiring letter from Knysna Hospice where they thanked both the performers and attendants for taking part in the event. “Your ongoing support is gratefully recognized. May you all share in the wonderful afternoon of music, and please know we are all so very grateful for your efforts and support.” Knysna also sent a video highlighting their work and conveying their mission of holistic palliative care in their South African community. They provide palliative care services at no cost to more than 240 patients per month. Their services include home visits, support groups, support for children of patients, bereavement, financial assistance and respite care – no small feat for a staff of less than 20.
The performances that followed proved impressive and exciting. Performers ranged from college aged in the NIU Percussion Ensemble down to young children in the Harambee Percussion Ensemble. Onlookers agreed that the participants performed with palpable heart and soul. The hard-work and passion that they put into this performance was evident. Denis Kidde, Program Coordinator for Global Partners in Care, was particularly impressed with a piece by the youngest group, called Isai Tauyo Pano, claiming their passionate drumming “electrified the audience.”
“I firmly believe that this is a heart-warming, fun event for the entire community and for all ages…It’s the kind of music people clap and sing along to. You will leave with a smile on your face not only because of the music, but because you’re helping support people on the other side of the planet. You’re helping make the world a better place through music,” said Greg Beyer, Professor and Director of Percussion Studies and co-director of the NIU Percussion Ensemble.
At the end, all three groups joined together to perform a closing act in which they asked for audience participation to learn a rhythmic clap. This gesture highlighted the motivation behind the fundraiser: unison between many different people to create something truly beautiful.
“Music and rhythm unite us and are uniquely human. Just as the children in Knynsa Sedgefield Hospice benefit from therapeutic drumming, we gather and beat in time to support, honor, and unite with our brothers and sisters in South Africa,” Jen Conley, Music Therapist and Counselor at Northwestern Medicine Hospice DeKalb said. “Music truly makes the world smaller and this benefit concert is a wonderful example of this.”
Events like these are key to the work of Global Partners in Care. The organization seeks to raise awareness of the global need for access to essential hospice and palliative care services. Our Partnership Program enables US Partners working in hospice and palliative care to engage with sister organizations in low-resource settings for cross-cultural learning and sharing. Partners also engage in strategic planning and program development, technical capacity building, and resource mobilization.