Barrier Breaker of the Month of January 2020
Barrier of the Month of January is……
Miss Hannah Donkor – Founder & CEO of Asaph Music School in The Gambia
Hannah is the last born of our Family although she’s a twin but she came out after her twin sister. Extremely extroverted. A quiet house means Hannah is not at home. Super loud, but a great worshiper. She loves to worship. She has been a praise and Worship leader at our local church in The Gambia for over 5 years and she loves kids. I think the whole family does. Every Sunday after Church, we have kids, friends and church family flooding our home and we loved it.
We are originally from Ghana but my parents moved to The Gambia when we were really young and that’s where we’ve lived most of our lives. In fact Hannah, and her twin sister Anna were born in The Gambia. She recently moved to Ghana to study music after starting Asaph music school in Gambia.
Jois: Why the name ‘Asaph’?
Hannah: Asaph is a name from the Bible (1 Chronicles 16). Asaph was the chief minister that David appointed with others to minister before the ark of the Lord and invoke the presence of God using their instruments. My Vision is to raise children who will use their instruments, voices and dance to invoke the presence of God while serving Him.
Jois: What made you start Asaph Music School?
Hannah: Growing up, I had a passion for music. I wish I could learn music or know how to play an instrument but I didn’t have the opportunity to. So I decided to start a music school to give others the opportunity and also to raise the standard of music in The Gambia and get people to be aware of music in The Gambia. It was a passion that was burning in me.
Jois: Who are your target audience?
Hannah: My target audience are mainly children but in the near future I want to target adults as well. It’s really good to get them when they are young.
Jois: How do you think the kids are doing without you?
Hannah: They are doing absolutely fine, because my twin sister who is the assistant of Asaph is supervising everything and I trust her. She’s been so good with the kids. With my absence I believe they will still feel my presence because she’s there.
Jois: Did you start with any funds?
Hannah: Not really, I didn’t have any funds, I just had a plan, a goal, set rules and just started. The kids used to pay GMD 350 (Gambian Dalasis) but currently pay a monthly fee of GMD 600 (approx $20). But with the GMD 600, and the number of kids that I have I cannot buy the number of instruments needed for the school.
Jois: How many kids did you start with?
Hannah: I started with 10 to 12 kids then it went down to 2 kids. Parents complained that the fee was too much and at that time the fee was just GMD 350 ($10) monthly. It was discouraging because the teachers will come and only 2 kids in the class but I kept pushing because I know that God gave me this dream and the Bible says that He that began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.
Jois: So how many are there now?
Hannah: Now we have about 22 kids
Jois: Wow!!! That’s awesome. What is the cause of the growth now that the fee has increased?
Hannah: They came back because they saw what we were doing especially because of the success of the Christmas concert we had in 2018. Parents saw what the children were doing and they were really impressed.
Jois: Apart from the fees the kids pay, do you get outside funding?
Hannah: Just a few and some people have promised, some fulfilled but others have not.
Jois: Do the teachers get paid?
Hannah: Yes we are paying them. I’m really blessed to have them. We pay them at a reasonable price which even I am not comfortable with but it’s what I can afford at the moment.
Jois: What are the parents reactions?
Hannah: They are all excited about it because they want their children to know how to play the instruments and be involved in activities. At Asaph, we don’t only teach how to read, write or play music but also train them on their vocals and dancing. So if you have a passion to dance, we train you too and we organize events for the kids to showcase their talent.
Jois: Awesome. How many times a month do you meet?
Hannah: We meet every Saturday. I plan on adding another day because once a month is not really enough. Twice a week will be great.
Jois: Where do you see Asaph in the next 5 years?
Hannah: Well, I see us at a higher level, organizing orchestras, bigger concerts. I also see the school growing with thousands of kids attending, organizing more events and travelling to different countries.
Jois: That’s great! I know you are a praise and worship leader. Tell us a little bit about that and what moves you to bring the fire of God down.
Hannah: Growing up I loved singing. That’s the gift God has given me. I started singing with my sisters and that’s how I was nurtured into ministering and leading praise and worship which is something I love doing. It’s actually a calling because not every singer is a worshiper and not every worshiper is a worship leader. I believe it’s a calling and God has used me to lead people into His presence. It’s always my passion to lead people into the Holy of Holies. That’s why anytime I stand to minister, it is another different level. It’s what I love doing.
Jois: That’s very good. So what message do you want to leave for people. This is the Barrier Breakers Corner and my desire is to see people Break Barriers. One of the reasons why I chose you as our first Barrier Breaker of the Month, it’s because of how long it took daddy to accept this path not just because you’re my sister. (By the way our dad is so African. lol). He tried to get you into other paths such as Nursing and being a Social Worker. Nothing can stop what God has planned for you as long as this is the path He has for you. You had to keep saying No even though you took a course in Social Work but you did not like it, you just did it because that was what daddy wanted. I remember you struggling with even the assignments lol. You had to keep saying NO without disrespecting him until you broke through and broke that barrier because you knew this was not what you wanted to be or where you wanted to go. I am sure you prayed about it until that moment when Daddy released you to go into Music. This is what Barrier Breakers is all about.
Jois: When you started Asaph you were still doing the Social Work course right?
Jois: So basically you still took a step of faith. It’s not that you were disobeying your parents but you were staying true to your calling. That’s what God wants us to do, take a step of Faith. Sometimes our parents, society, culture, etc may be wrong but when you take that step of faith, People may laugh at you, they may think you’re not doing the right thing but because of that step of faith you took to start Asaph, others are seeing the light, and understanding your message.
Hannah: It’s not easy starting something. You may not get the support you need right now but at least people will see and understand the vision. In Gambia we know how hard it is for churches to have instrumentalist because most of these instrumentalists have families they have to fend for so coming for choir practice on a week day and the timing might not work for them. Some of them do not receive any funds from the church they attend so why would they want to spend their time when they can be making money. That’s the mentality some have while others want to serve God by playing the instruments and are not really bothered whether or not they receive anything. But even getting such kind of people is not always easy. So if they can play the instruments when they are young and without much responsibilities, it will be great for churches. But it would be nice if they also receive some form of incentive to encourage them whether young or old.
Jois: I 100% agree. Barrier Breakers Corner is about, stepping out on faith and breaking barriers that even our parents have set for us and that is what you did. I just want you to leave a message out there for people, young, old, middle aged etc who are settling or procrastinating. Some say they are waiting on God but sometimes God is actually waiting on us. What message do you have for them.
Hannah: My spiritual Father once told me something that has kept me going. He said, Think Big, Start Small, End Big. That’s the message I want to leave you out there. Think Big, Start Small, End Big. Follow your passion. The Bible says, write a vision and make it plain. I have mine written down in a specific book. Any idea that comes, I write it down. Have a vision and a goal. It was not easy for me. I was supposed to start Asaph Music School in 2015. I was just procrastinating until the day I took that step of faith and started in 2016 with my vision, goals, plans, rules & regulations.I wanted to study music just after I finished high school but my dad said No. I should rather study something else. But music was my passion. When God has given you a gift or talent one day it will manifest. You just have to keep planning. And you have to talk to the right people because some people are dream killers while others are dream helpers.
Jois: I call them Destiny Helpers
Hannah: Yes. I had one Uncle (family friend) who helped me a lot. He’s the one that helped with the rules and regulations, designing the registration forms. And he pushed me to start and that’s how I was able to start. You just have to pray about it and work towards it. You don’t have to wait, start by writing your vision, pray about it, look up to God, speak life to yourself. I am going to make it. I will succeed no matter what, no matter the environment, etc. I doubted myself because my genre of music is more on the Gospel side. Gambia is a Muslim dominated country; will my music school survive there. I don’t see a lot of Muslims in Gambia into musical instruments such as we use in Asaph. But I’m still pushing and I see little by little people are sending their kids. When you write your vision, and talk about it, people will be drawn to it.
Jois: Yes!!!. That’s true. I believe when you take care of God’s business or the assignment He has given you, He takes care of you too. Thank you Sis for taking time out to share your Barrier Breaking story. I am encouraged to keep pushing and I know anyone that will read your story will also be encouraged and not procrastinate anymore. Thank You and God bless you. I love you Sis.
Hannah: I love you too.