Ondekoza challenges students to see how long they can drum for without stopping!
We visited the juvenile correctional facility. Security was tight and IDs and Passports were required. Ondekoza set up the taiko as we had done at schools. Each facility resident entered the room and sat in designated seats. When the first strike of taiko was so loud, everyone stared in amazement. In the middle of the workshop, some residents were allowed to participate in drumming. They got up from the seats and smiled, excited for this rare opportunity. Each was given two drum sticks. Yoshi asked them to follow the rhythm. Yoshi hit the drum once, they hit once. Yoshi hit multiple times and they followed exactly. This was followed by a question and answer period. Residents were instructed to tell their questions to the staff and the staff would then pass the questions to us, but residents asked such thoughtful questions that staff allowed them to continue directly. One of the questions was “How could I join Ondekoza?” Catherine answered “Anyone can join, but you must follow daily routine. We get up 6:00 am and run six miles every morning, we eat breakfast together at 8:00 am, clean the house and practice till noon then lunch. After lunch we practice individually for a few hours followed by group practice. Dinner is 8:00 pm and then we clean the kitchen. After that some personal time. This is the daily routine, seven days a week, no holidays except New Years.” Everyone listened quietly. The workshop ended and they were told to leave the room quietly. They lined up and thanked each member of Ondekoza and offered a hand shake. The staff, volunteers and guards were very pleased.