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Minstrels of Hope at the CND Mother House

Nelia Palma


Photo: Samantha Etane

On September 8, 2011, a breath of fresh air blew into the Congrégation de Notre-Dame Mother House. Twelve young women from the Philippines aged 17 to 28, known as the Minstrels of Hope, were welcomed by the Sisters of the CND during their Better World 2011 Canada Tour. Under the watchful eyes and caring presence of their vocal coach, Benibaldo Mapa and Alain Pronovost, founder of the Minstrels Rhythm of Hope, an organization which promotes different programmes and activities in the fields of arts, music and literacy for the benefit of underprivileged youth in Manila, the young singers have been delighting the Sisters with their joyful dispositions, positive attitudes and happy smiles… not to mention their enchanting harmonies.

Their personal journeys are most fascinating. The members of the Minstrels of Hope all come from urban poor families in the depressed areas in Manila. Many were obliged to abandon school early in order to help support their families. Despite their young age, some of these young women already have children of their own. Along the way they found help in organizations and individuals willing to see their potential and to bring them closer to their dreams. Among them were the Minstrels Rhythm of Hope and its founder Mr. Alain Pronovost. Under the wing of this independent non-profit NGO the young women were given the opportunity to pursue their studies and develop their artistic skills and talents as well as hope for a better life, and the inspiration to help other underprivileged youth.

Having received not only financial support but also, and especially, help to regain their dignity, self confidence and empowerment, the members of the Minstrels of Hope created in 2006 their own programmes in alternative academic education and liberal arts in an attempt to alleviate poverty and uplift the needy. When they are not touring in Canada, Europe and Asia delighting audiences everywhere with their lovely voices and enchanting arrangements, as well as raising awareness of their own plight and that of the people of their communities, they are offering young people not only intellectual knowledge but also a way to express themselves creatively, to become creators.

On September 15, a concert featuring the vocal ensemble, Minstrels of Hope, directed and accompanied on keyboard and vocals by Benibaldo Mapa was held at the CND Mother House. In front of a large and enthusiastic audience they showcased a most varied repertoire ranging from sacred hymns in Latin to folk ballads in Tagalog (their native tongue) to popular hits in English, French and Spanish. Their rich and melodious voices reached every corner of the hall. Their charming choreographies brought smiles to everyone there. Their tight harmonies were synonymous of the tight and harmonious friendship that evidently exists within this group. All of us who have had the opportunity to meet them and see Anna Maria, Anita, Beverlyn, Crisgale, Donna Sarah, Fatima, Haina Jane, Jaylen, Jillian, Kaizen, Michelle and Rosalina perform thank them for sharing their talent and inner joy with us and wish them every success in their future endeavours.

The most recent CD of the Minstrels of Hope, entitled Better World, is available by contacting minstrels2011@gmail.com from now until October 23, 2011. All proceeds go to fund the educational and artistic efforts of the Minstrels Rhythm of Hope to help less fortunate youth in the depressed areas in Manila.

 

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