Keeping the Faith

Earworms… and an Indian Orphanage that Needs Your Help

“Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, because I’m happy…
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you…”

And so on.  It’s in your head already, isn’t it?

That catchy ‘Happy’ tune by Pharrell Williams, or “earworm” as psychologist Lauren Stewart called it in a recent article for The Sunday Times, has certainly enjoyed a l-o-o-o-ng popularity.

“The song’s success tells us a lot about the way in which certain melodies can burrow into our brains and stay there long after the music has stopped,” Ms Stewart wrote.

She explored how the use of repetition, gesture (hand claps), long note durations, gospel-style harmonies and simple rhythmic phrases result in “a cerebral high that can be as potent as any highly anticipated reward”.

It explains a lot.

Forgive the offense if Happy is your all-time favourite tune, but I find the lyrics to be rather trite. I get that it’s a celebration of joy and happiness, which really is admirable, but it’s the song’s carefree, toe-tapping tone of positivity that makes it a winner.

I watched a YouTube clip that imbued it with true meaning last week. It shows all these gorgeous Indian kids grooving to the beats of Happy – because they’re so impossibly happy to be the recipients of so many generous people’s benevolence.

Santoshi & Cynthia sitting at one of the desks they will receive as part of the fundraising campaign.

Santoshi & Cynthia sitting at one of the desks they will receive as part of the fundraising campaign.

They are orphans from The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission in Banbasa, India, expressing happiness because of the success of a fundraising campaign started six weeks ago.  Friends of mine – father and son team Rick and Clifton Shipway, formerly of Launceston – run the orphanage.

Clifton (left) and Rick Shipway with some of the happy kids at the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission in India.

Clifton (left) and Rick Shipway with some of the happy kids at the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission in India.

Their initial goal was to raise $4000 to pay for 100 new desks at the orphanage school.  They raised that in two days.  Two happy days!

So they set the aim higher, with hopes to buy school supplies and a bus when the kitty reached $22,000.  They raised that in two weeks.  Two happy weeks!

Now, the aim is to reach $52,000 to fund the completion of six new classrooms.  Last time I checked, the tally was at $38,759, and here’s the clincher: the campaign ends TOMORROW (our time), at 4:59pm to be precise.  There’s still time to get behind this orphanage to increase the happiness of so many children in its care and influence, through education, transport and resources.

I praise God for people like the Shipways, who give up all of life’s luxuries to live the maxim, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Luke 6:31)

They remind us of God’s heart for the needy.

“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)

I hope that, like Pharrell Williams’ chart-topping tune, this orphanage’s campaign will be your earworm today.  I promise the “cerebral high” will be beyond that of any pop song.

Besides, poverty should be everyone’s earworm.

Give GENEROUSLY to the Shipways’ campaign by visiting: www.indianorphanage.com/desks.  Thank you!

First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday April 28, 2014.

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