I, on the other hand, have no problem telling you how open-hearted and awesome he is, or how he has been devoting his studies to helping refugee communities, or volunteering his time with refugee and low income youth in Denver... or how he has been accepted to conduct research and help teach Palestinian refugee youth music in Palestine in March. (Yeah, I know- ridiculously awesome.)
For years Heath's guiding forces have been twofold- music and social justice. He received his undergraduate degree in music with a minor in political science and in 2014 returned to CUDenver to complete a political science master's degree, which he is set to complete this summer. He has sculpted his studies to combine his passion for music and his belief in service to underprivileged populations and in this vein is writing his thesis on music in refugee camps. Last fall he began volunteering at El Sistema in Denver, part of an international organization designed to empower low income and at-risk youth through music. This winter he started an internship with the African Cultural Center in Denver, working with refugee youth, amongst other things.
Heath went out on a limb and decided to pursue involvement with the most well-known organization that focuses on international access to music with communities in need, Musicians Without Borders. Amazingly, he has been invited to come to Palestine, conduct research, and participate in the Sounds of Palestine refugee youth music program. (Feel free to explore- http://www.soundsofpalestine.org/ )
This is amazing for multiple reasons, namely:
*Heath will have the opportunity to put his combined passions into action in a community of dire need.
*Refugee youth will have the opportunity to benefit from Heath's astoundingly open heart and mind as well as his impressive musical expertise.
*MwB (Musicians without Borders) is very selective about their volunteers and the fact that Heath will be conducting research has shifted that normal volunteer contract into something more, including contracts for a thesis review- this is a big deal!
*He will be able to get the hands on interviews and experience he needs to write an effective thesis and contribute to the field with authority.
*This opportunity is a perfect stepping stone to continue to set Heath off in the ideal direction to work in this field, enabling him to make important international connections, opening doors so that he can commit his life to working with at-risk populations while also supporting himself and his family.
Heath is set to leave for 3 weeks, leaving the week of March 13th, returning around April 6th. He is entirely on his own for funding- MwB does not offer housing or anything in Bethlehem. We have frugally calculated his costs to be as following:
Airfare: $850 (Already purchased by us out of pocket)
Extra Travel: $200
Travel Insurance: $100 (Required by MwB)
Lodging: $600 ($900 estimated, -$300 which has been given to Heath from the UCD political science department)
This total comes to $2,150. I am hoping to raise $2,500 for him, just so he has a bit of bumper room in case something goes awry in his flights across the world or anything else (as his wife and mother of our children, I worry, for sure), as well as cover some of the extra costs (like the recording equipment for interviews).
The reality is that this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Heath. The other reality is that we are both full time students with two kids that we are daily active and present for and it is not within our means to send Heath to do this. At all.... That said, I am determined that my husband go and gain this critical experience and so if it means that we go pull from what meager funds we have, we will do it.
I do, however, know that there are so many of you who know and love Heath, or me, or our kids and I hope that all of you can see what beautiful work Heath is trying to do. (I'm now officially crying, just so you know.) As his wife, I know how much this work means to him, so much so that I burst into hysterical happy-tears (I cry a lot, ok? ;) in the middle of the MLK rally I was marching in with the kids after he chased us down to tell us- he stayed home to work on his studies that day, a choice he makes all the time (side note- being married to a grad student is no joke!).
Honestly, this is his dream coming true. He is working so very hard to make this happen for himself and for us and for the world- I cannot tell you how many late nights he has pulled or how many thousands of pages he has read and written in order to become the best man he can be for this offering. I trust that the Universe would not have presented this opportunity if it was impossible.
Broken down, this total can come from- 25 $100 donations, 50 $50 donations, or 100 $25 donations... I think that between the hundreds of people who know and love our family, we can make this happen.
I'm a total blubbery mess now. Thank you for reading this far. If you choose to donate, any amount, know that you have the love and appreciation of a very sweet family (if I may say so myself) composed of two awesome kids and two parents who hope to change the world.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for loving us and supporting Heath in helping make his dream to serve effectively through the language of music come true.
And thank you for supporting me and the kids in supporting him to pursue his dream. We have no words to fully express our pride in our Papa or the love and gratitude we have for the presence of this sweet man in our lives. We are honored we get to share him with Palestinian youth in need!
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