Paying it forward
On March 19, Renée Di Prima Burns of Concord received an e-mail describing the need for a family to host a Rwandan teen while Partners In Health coordinated his life-saving medical care for Hodgkin’s lymphoma at Children’s Hospital Boston and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
In April, Sibo Tuyishimire, 13, arrived to live with Renée, her husband David, and daughters Halle, 16, and Caroline, 14.
Since then, Sibo - who weighed 61 pounds when he reached Concord - has gained 25 pounds while exceeding expectations. He underwent two rounds of chemotherapy and a successful bone-marrow transplant before being released from the hospital Aug. 4.
Di Prima Burns credits “overwhelming community support’’ for helping her family meet Sibo’s needs. “That e-mail had circulated for six weeks before I saw it, so I knew Sibo’s window of opportunity was closing,’’ she said. “We jumped in, and a whole lot of people jumped in with us.’’
At Concord Middle School this spring, students walked Sibo to class and the bus. Volunteers translated until he learned English, drove him to doctor visits when Renée and David were working, and created a schedule so he would always have a visitor at the hospital. Another friend set up a video chat for Sibo’s late-night talks with the Burns family from the hospital and virtual visits with their dogs, Colby and Jackson. Soon additional volunteers will be tutoring Sibo, and give him the swimming lessons he has been requesting.
The Burns family is appreciating each day with Sibo until he receives clearance to return to his farming village, which does not have electricity or running water. They hope to accompany him home for the holidays, and meet his mother and 6-year-old brother, Hinge; he and Sibo speak on the telephone every Sunday.
Di Prima Burns said she and her husband will contribute to the siblings’ educations.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sara Stulac, a Concord native who diagnosed Sibo and began his treatment while in Rwanda with Partners In Health, an international relief agency, has become a regular visitor since she moved back to Massachusetts in June.
“Sibo is genuinely part of our family, but he has been a gift to everyone who meets him,’’ Di Prima Burns said. “He has this gigantic smile and infectious giggle, and you just want more.’’
For information about serving as a host for Partners In Health, visit www.pih.org. For more on Sibo’s journey, visit the Friends of Sibo page on Facebook.
MUSIC EXCHANGE: In his native Kenya, Berklee College of Music staff member Sam Lutomia of Framingham says, opportunities for professional musicians are lacking outside of teaching. He notes that only two universities in the country of nearly 40 million people offer a bachelor’s degree in music.
In an effort to provide aspiring musicians with instruments, music technology, and inspiration, Lutomia recently led Berklee students, alumni, and students from Newton North and Needham high schools on a three-week visit to Kenya. Participants included vocalist Ali Campbell of Needham and three Newton musicians, flutist Marina Miller, guitarist Max Gordon, and drummer and keyboardist Jake Rosenberg.
The program was coordinated through Lutomia’s nonprofit organization, Global Youth Groove, which he founded in 2009 to transform the lives of youths through music. The group conducted workshops in rural schools in western Kenya, performed at a festival at which the country’s deputy prime minister was guest of honor, studied Swahili, and learned about Kenyan music, instruments, and dance.
Lutomia said he was overwhelmed by the donated items that the group was able to deliver to a school and community center. The equipment included a five-piece drum set, drum sticks and drum heads, alto and tenor saxophones, guitars, amplifiers, trombones, trumpets, violins, a clarinet, ukulele, keyboard, eight laptop computers with music production software, headphones, and instructional CDs, DVDs, and books.
According to Lutomia, the Kenyan musicians had seen many of the instruments only on television. Equally important, he noted, was the “eye-opening and life-transforming’’ experiences of the American students, including learning about a culture in which necessities like food and water cannot be taken for granted.
“The trip was a big success, but we want to involve more people, do more things, and have a bigger impact,’’ said Lutomia, who also helped found Acacia in Kenya, which provides school tuition, uniforms, books, and food for orphaned girls. “It’s frustrating to hear about all these kids in Kenya who have the talent, but don’t know where to go or what to do with their energy and passion for music.’’
For details on his group, visit www.globalyouthgroove.com.
ON BOARD: Six new members recently joined the Concord Museum’s board of governors during its annual meeting.
Nancy J. Barnard of Wayland is founder and principal of H-K Designs, which develops period-appropriate fabric furnishings for museums, historic houses, and private clients. Richard D. Briggs Jr. of Concord is managing director of
Serving as museum officers for the year are president Churchill Franklin of Concord, vice presidents John M. Ferrell of Concord, and Lisa Foote of Dublin, N.H.; secretary Miranda Boylan of Concord, and treasurer William Huyett of Concord.
Founded in 1886, the museum works to enhance appreciation of Concord’s history.
STAND OUT: The Anti-Defamation League recently appointed Brookline resident Alex Goldstein (inset below) to its regional board for New England.
Goldstein, 27, was named as press secretary to Governor Deval Patrick in January. Previously, he was spokesman for Patrick’s 2010 campaign, press secretary at the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, and a communications director for the Massachusetts Democratic Party during the 2008 presidential campaign.
He is an adjunct faculty member at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches a course in political communication. He is a graduate of the ADL’s Glass Leadership Institute, which familiarizes young professionals with its mission in fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred.
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