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Used band instruments play on overseas

Young people in Esmeraldas, Ecuador are playing band instruments from Park Rapids Rotarians and others the Rotary Club collected in 2016-17. (Submitted photo)

Band instruments that once inhabited people's closets and storage rooms are back in use in tropical Esmeraldas, Ecuador.

Students at a music conservatory there have learned how to play them and are performing in public.

The Park Rapids Rotary Club connected with the Esmeraldas Rotary Club when President David Ron visited Park Rapids during Fernando Checa's Rotary Youth Exchange stay. Ron spoke to the club about the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Ecuador in April 2016 and the possibility of partnering on a Rotary project to benefit the music conservatory he manages in Esmeraldas.

The conservatory offers a free program to teach instrumental music, vocal lessons and dance in an effort to keep kids off the streets and out of gangs. Students range from 5 years old to 15.

Club members Ed Ranson and Dr. David Andersen visited Ecuador in the fall of 2016 to explore how the club could help. A few months later Missy Lindow and her family hand-delivered some brass instruments to Esmeraldas. Among the instruments they delivered was a cornet David R. Konshok played while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

The club continued gathering instruments and overseeing needed repairs, and in late 2017 shipped more than 35 to Miami where they were placed in a shipping container bound for Ecuador.

Ron has kept in touch with club members, reporting when the instruments arrived and students' progress in learning to play them.