A Brighton musician was so inspired by music he heard in a shanty town in Romania, he is asking for unwanted instruments to be donated for the community’s “street children”.
Tim Bennett, 45, of Aberdeen Road, Brighton, has had a love of East European gypsy music for many years, and found kindred spirits at Hassocks-based charity Humanity at Heart.
The charity funds and runs a learning centre in Petrosani, Romania, a remote mining community which suffers from high unemployment and poor job prospects.
The learning centre provides a safe place for children to receive help with their schoolwork from qualified teachers.
Local university students also use ICT equipment at the centre, which provides a nurturing environment and acts as a second home to many of the town’s vulnerable people.
The centre is staffed by the teachers and a dedicated team of volunteers.
After his first visit, Mr Bennett proposed to record Romanian music and make it available for download in aid of Humanity at Heart.
He accompanied the charity, alongside wife Tracy, 40, to kick-start the project.
Mr Bennett said: “I was overjoyed with the welcome and warm response I received from the residents.
“Luckily, I was able to record some amazing music from local singers and musicians and semi-professional bands who had been contacted by the team at the learning centre.
“Everyone we met showed such incredible hospitality and generosity despite the dire economic situation they find themselves in.”
Mr Bennett and his wife were also invited to visit a Roma gypsy camp in the city of Arad in western Romania where Humanity at Heart has links with another charity Vis De Copil (A Child’s Dream).
Charity founders Ken and Katie Cloke work with street children and support the gypsies who live on the outskirts of the city.
Mrs Cloke took Mr Bennett to visit the gypsy camp where he met some incredibly talented musicians.
Mr Bennett said: “Despite the fact the families live in what amounts to a shanty town, they were welcoming and shared their time and what little they had with us.
“It was a very humbling experience.”
Mr Bennett recorded a number of songs, played and sung by members of a family living in Arad, and a track is available for download at http://gypsyaradmusic.wordpress.com/ for £1 with the option of donating more.
A preview can be seen on YouTube.
Mr Bennett’s next project is to collect unwanted musical instruments to take to Romania as a resource for the homeless street children of Arad.
To donate any unwanted instruments, email firstname.lastname@example.org.