Harping for Harmony News - 2005 Annual Letter

Dear Friends of Harping for Harmony Foundation,

Happy New Year!! I'm turning over a new leaf in 2005. I'll be a better communicator, starting with this "annual letter." Harping for Harmony Foundation (HHF) is entering its eleventh year. The mission remains unchanged: to promote harmony and community, locally and globally, through harp music. New year projects and prospects include Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, and Venezuela, plus our continuing Millennium Harper Awards.

Patrice Fisher started her own harp teaching program in Antigua, Guatemala, a couple of years ago. In 2002, independently, I re-introduced the harp in San Lucas Toliman. Guatemala. Since then, San Lucas harpers have been involved with Patrice's program in Antigua. Patrice and I discovered one another when she announced her own program on the harp listserv. Harping for Harmony Foundation has provided travel support for harpists wishing to participate in her ongoing program. Our Board of Directors is currently considering a request from another harpist, Eala Clarke. I am asking our Board to approve an expenditure of $250 for her.

Lis Joosten is a harpist in Honduras, which borders on Guatemala. Lis wrote me recently requesting support in starting a harp school. Naturally, I connected her with Patrice Fisher, by email. It turns out that Patrice will be in Honduras in late January. We are hoping that she and Lis can meet and move ahead. If this prospect develops, I hope that HHF can offer material support in Honduras and perhaps neighboring countries.
In Central America, El Salvador could be the next step. It was there that I first traveled as a harper for harmony, in 1994. Or, perhaps Chiapas, in Southern Mexico, where I visited in 2002. In Chiapas, on Easter Sunday, I harped in the streets with scores of indigenous Maya harpists. In San Cristobal, I enjoyed the hospitality of Kippy Nigh at Casa Del Pan, a natural vegetarian restaurant closely associated with organic and sustainable agriculture development in Chiapas. I highly recommend it!

I met Alexis Gardy when I travelled with my harps to Haiti in 1997. I gave him a small harp, just 15 strings, and he learned how to play it. A teenager at the time, he is now married with a daughter entering school. In the last three years, HHF has given him about $1000 in financial support. Now, our Board of Directors is considering his request for a loan of $900 to build a house. I think the consensus may be that we would make it a gift rather than a loan. I'm hoping to visit Haiti again before long, perhaps in July, 2005.

Venezuela is perhaps dearest to my heart, as a harpist, because it was there, in 1991, that I discovered the folk harp. I'm heading back to Venezuela this week, visiting folks in Barquisimeto, Guanare, Barinas and elsewhere. I will be away till January 25, seeking further inspiration from the heartland of llanero harp. For more, sign up for the short list.

I am pleased to announce that Sandy Hehl has claimed her title, Millennium Harpist to the Elderly and the Young of Hampton Roads, VA. She sent me a beautiful scrap-book telling the whole story of her year-long quest, which took her to 13 preschool and children's programs, plus 13 nursing and retirement homes. She will receive a small harp and a personalized ceramic medallion. We are hoping to make several more awards between now and Saint Patrick's Day.

School programs in West Virginia are a big part of my personal work with the harp. I'm in my third year under contract with the WV Department of Education. The national program, called Learn and Serve, is aimed at encouraging children to be helpful.

Our website needs continuing development. My vision for Harping for Harmony Foundation, in 2005, is to expand our support for programs in Central America, in Haiti, and elsewhere. Also, to double or triple our annual budget, which has been steady around $20,000 for the last several years. I'll be devoting more time to this as I retire on Social Security in March.

Harpists: if you are interested in joining our Board of Directors, or receiving support for your own project, or otherwise participating in this effort, please contact me or any member of the board.

Happy New Year!