The Healing in Harmony mobile studio (HIHM) is up and running in two rural communities of eastern DRC near Bukavu.
The project, implemented in partnership with Panzi Hospital and Foundations, is making it possible to offer mental health services to youth in remote locations who would otherwise not have access to such support. Target participants are young women and men who have experienced sexual violence and other trauma related to poverty, violence, and instability in the region.
Make Music Matter Post-Production and Program Manager Damião Melo Fernandes explains, “To be able to bring the studio directly to participants in these rural communities, we decided to use a vehicle that would not only be able to carry the full studio but also power it with a solar system and battery systems installed at the back of the truck.”
Transportation remains a hurdle in these rural regions due to poor road conditions, especially during the rainy season. Travel disruptions and potential security issues also limit the time the Healing in Harmony team can spend in the field.
“The vehicle was designed with the performance and protection of the gear in mind,” Fernandes says. “It was also important that we be able to set up and tear down the equipment quickly.”
For smaller group sessions, the studio is a ‘power and play’ system with everything ready, wired, and connected within the back of the jeep. For larger group sessions when the speakers and studio system need to be taken out of the vehicle, the team has managed to limit set up and tear down time to roughly 15 minutes, about equal to the time it takes the artists to set themselves into position.
“Our aim is to make the vehicle shock proof and ready to break the geographic barriers that separate the artists from therapy.”
The first cycle of the HIHM project is underway and participants are now in the songwriting phase, putting their evolving thoughts to music and creating original pieces to call their own. They’ll soon be professionally recording their songs and preparing to share their stories with the world.
HIHM is part of the Global Mental Health Program supported by Grand Challenges Canada and funded by the Government of Canada.