Education

Brookstone student raises $2K, buys violins to teach impoverished children

mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com

Brookstone School senior Koyal Ansingkar has been tutoring children at Open Door Community House since ninth grade. So when it came time to pick her senior project, she knew where she wanted to make another positive impact but the question was how.

Then she thought she could share her talent and passion for music. She has been playing the violin since she was 4 and serves as concert master in the Youth Orchestra of Greater Columbus. She also is an accomplished singer, winning the junior division at the 2015 Atlanta Indian Idol talent competition April 25 in Georgia Tech's Ferst Center.

All of which led to Koyal beaming in the middle of Open Door's auditorium Wednesday afternoon as children in the tutoring program buzzed about the violins she donated.

"Seeing them so excited makes me really happy as a musician, knowing that there are more kids who want to do this," she said.

In August, Koyal sang for a crowd of more than 100 at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Columbus, where she produced a Bollywood-style fundraiser. She collected around $2,000, enough to buy nine violins of assorted sizes for the children at Open Door. She brought seven Wednesday; the other two are being repaired after they were damaged during delivery.

Koyal is among approximately 20 Brookstone students who volunteer at Open Door in the after-school tutoring program for 10 children ages 5-12, said Marlon Sharpe, the charity's director of community ministries.

"Every time she comes, the kids light up," he said. "All the kids want to be around her all the time."

Norance Camacho, 9, a fourth-grader at Fox Elementary School, explained why.

"She's a nice person," he said. "She helps us and wants us to have a better education. She hopes we can make it."

Most of the children in Open Door's after-school program come from households with incomes of less than $10,000 per year, Sharpe said. Adding these violins, he said, "will broaden their horizons. Our kids normally aren't afforded the opportunities that other kids have."

Diamond Hayes, 10, a fourth-grader at Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy, said Koyal's gift "means a lot because I never had a violin in my hands before."

Asked what it feels like, she said, "They're pretty and they look like they cost a lot."

That's why the violins will stay at Open Door when the children go home each night.

Diamond's mother, Tasha Hayes, also has twin 9-year-old sons, Shawn and Quan, in the program. As she watched Koyal instruct the students, Hayes said, "It's nice. It's happiness. It will help them get together and listen to different music."

Hayes played a borrowed violin when she attended Marshall Middle School. Now, watching her children have the same chance, she said, is simply "joyfulness."

Koyal, who is undecided about her college choice but knows she wants to become a surgeon, plans to prepare the children to perform a concert for their parents by the end of the school year. She is grateful to all the folks who contributed to her project.

"It's a lot of work trying to put something like this together," she said. "But when you see the impact, it's the most amazing feeling. It's really important to take what we've learned to help others."

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow him on Twitter @MarkRiceLE.

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