Back in 2012, Guitars for Swaziland founder Stephen Doster went to Africa to represent the United States in the State Department’s Arts Envoy Program and provide guitar lessons and concerts for people of all ages. During his travels, Doster noticed that the guitars that schools provided to underprivileged children were largely unplayable, which sparked the idea for Guitars for Swaziland.
Things really came together at a fundraising event in Austin, Texas, in June of 2013 that inspired several artists — including Eric Johnson and Redd Volkaert —to join the cause along with Fender.
“Fender strongly believes in music education and sharing the spirit of music with the world,” said Fender’s Jeff Van Zandt. ”When Stephen told us of his experience in Swaziland and explained what he wanted to do for the kids of Swaziland, his passion was overwhelming. The unrivaled support from the Austin musicians that have jumped on board to support Stephen and his life-changing foundation falls in line with our passion. Fender is honored to supply the instruments necessary to make this dream a reality and to enrich the lives of children around the world through music.”
Once the guitars and strings were collected, they were shipped to Swaziland, where American Ambassador Makila James officiated the donation ceremony. The presentation included performances by several children who originally learned about the instruments from Doster. As a special surprise, along with the guitars, LP Percussion, Inc. provided a variety of instruments, which were included in the distribution.
Guitars for Swaziland is not stopping there, however. The organization also has plans to reach the SOS Children’s Villages in Mbabane, Sitka, Nhlangano; Cabrini Sisters; Jamming House; Sandra Lee Center, Mbabane; Njabulweni Boys’ Home, Manzini; McCorkindale Orphanage, Manzini; New Life Homes, Mtsambama; and Pasture Valley, Nhlangano.
Watch a video about the project below.
For more information about Guitars for Swaziland, click here.