Ryan's Guitars Project

Three faiths, six strings. Guitars not guns.

Ryan's Guitars Project, a project of St. Paul's Foundation, provides quality guitars and music instructors to poor and refugee children throughout the Middle East.  Because music provides all children with positive ways of expressing themselves regardless of circumstance.

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Musical instruction + refugee & children at risk = new ways of healing

Ryan spent his life encouraging others to find their passions and build their lives around music -- to allow them to be more of who they were made to be.  All over the world music's healing power can help that happen.  So it is fitting to allow him to live on in a program that allows children from poor and war-torn countries to use guitars to find their own voice through music.

Why a Guitars Project?

In Damascus almost two years ago an Orthodox monk met a man, let’s call him Tom, who asked to give his confession so the monk took out his prayer rope and sat and talked and prayed with Tom.

Tom talked about his two daughters, let’s call them Miriam and Marina, the three had been walking from one village to another trying to avoid rebel troops on one side and government troops on the other.  They hadn't a proper meal in months.  They were starving.  The girls couldn’t walk as far as they needed on their own and eventually Tom couldn’t carry them both.  He had to leave Marina behind.  While listening to Tom, it was Miriam that fascinated the monk.  Her eyes weren’t vacant so much as dead.  Glassy.  But the monk had a guitar, so he put it in her hands and taught her the first few bars of Claire de Lune.  Her smile was so big.  It was as if the sun exploded in her face.  The monk wanted to leave the guitar with her but saw they'd just sell it for food.  Or maybe use it for kindling for a fire.  So he made sure they had food, knew how to get more and gave them all the cash he had.

The monk happened to have a friend who made guitars and they talked about bringing the gift of music to children harmed by war and violence so the cycle would not repeat itself.  But the thing about monks is that they have to wait for the right time.

Almost two years later the monk found himself, of all the places, at the Brentwood Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee listening and learning about the life of Ryan Huie.  Ryan was a young music agent who had spent his life encouraging others to build their lives around music.  One after another, young artists and musicians talked about how Ryan encouraged them to take their fear and transform it into music, to believe they could be more through music.  His friends said he often referred to a “reverse peacock” in describing the humility he encouraged in his clients.  Our monk smiled.  Peacocks are symbols of immortality and resurrection in the Middle East among both Christians and Muslims.  Some believe their feathers protect from Evil.

So Ryan's Guitars Project was born.  Less than two months later the very first guitar was delivered to His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, a promise to provide as many guitars and instructors as there were children who asked for them and could not afford their own.

Giving children guitars not guns can heal them and end the cycle of violence.  Musical education can reach places traditional education cannot and inoculate children and teenagers against fundamentalist preaching which is often the only entertainment.

Ryan's Guitars Project addresses three issues.  First, it provides music instruction to aid as many dispossessed children (either refugees or simply poor) as possible.  Second, Americans get to know the challenges of growing up in the Middle East in an intimate way.  Finally, by teaching children to express themselves it breaks a cycle of violence contributing to global and American security.  Three faiths and six strings can make some pretty good noise, especially if they use guitars not guns.

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