"Many of us at Music Without Borders use this project as an opportunity to explore certain themes that motivate us to help MSF, including the ideas of youth engagement, the power of the arts, service and a world without borders. We explore them at our meetings, share them on our blog and invite others to join the conversation."
Benn McGregor is a Grade 10 student in Toronto. In the article below, he describes how the event he and his friends organized in support of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) became a celebration of art and the ability of young people to make a difference in the world.
By Benn McGregor
I first heard about Doctors Without Border/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the work that it does in September 2014, during the West Africa Ebola crisis. I was moved by the service and sacrifice of MSF volunteers risking their lives to provide medical aid to people in Ebola-affected regions. I also learned that MSF was leading the effort in designing Ebola treatment protocols. These scientific and humanitarian aspects of MSF’s work impressed me, so I decided to help.
Music Without Borders
My first question was, “How can I help?” Coincidentally, at around that same time, my piano teacher suggested that my brother and I have a piano recital. So we decided to turn this recital idea into a fundraising concert for MSF. My brother came up with the name “Music Without Borders.” We reached out to our friends, all high-schoolers and younger, asking for their help. My school — the University of Toronto Schools — offered us its auditorium as the venue for the concert. After the date and place were set, our graphic designer friends created a logo and our programmer friends created our website. Some friends and supporters wrote for the blog and others created videos for it; more friends got involved with outreach, fundraising and event planning; and of course, many musician friends agreed to perform. In the end, the first Music Without Borders concert in 2015 drew more than 300 people and raised more than $13,000.
Buoyed by the success of this experience, my friends and I decided to do it again. The second Music Without Borders Concert will take place next Saturday, on April 2, 2016. Wanting to dig a bit deeper into the idea of humanitarianism, we reached out to Canadian physician Dr. James Orbinski — the former international president of MSF— to invite him to speak during the concert about why young people should be humanitarians. To our great delight, he accepted our invitation!
A growing network of friends, family and supporters
Besides raising money for MSF, many of us at Music Without Borders use this project as an opportunity to explore certain themes that motivate us to help MSF, including the ideas of youth engagement, the power of the arts, service and a world without borders. We explore them at our meetings, share them on our blog and invite others to join the conversation.
However, these conversations are not always easy to have. Two questions that surface from time to time are: Why should people care? And why should they support Music Without Borders? People should care because the world is just like a human body — when one part is in pain, the whole person suffers. Diseases, war and conflict experienced in one part of the world potentially threaten the rest of us. And who supports Music Without Borders? Our friends and families do. We started by reaching out to those who are closest to us, and a network of people who believe in what we do — the power of youth engagement through the arts — has formed. This constantly growing network helps spread the ideas of Music Without Borders and make them a reality.
We hope our story will encourage others to act on their desire to help others in need, tapping into the many unique talents and capacities that they have, and drawing on the support of their own network of friends and family in creating a successful service project.
Benn McGregor is a Grade 10 student at the University of Toronto Schools. He is one of the organizers of Music Without Borders, a fundraising campaign that will host the second annual Music Without Borders Toronto Concert in support of MSF at 7:00pm on Saturday, April 2, at the University of Toronto Schools Auditorium, 371 Bloor Street West, Toronto. For more information, visit musicwithoutborder.com.