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You’ve opened our stories scrapbook where you can meet some of the inspirational people we’ve worked with along the way. No two people are the same, so neither are two scrapbook pages...

An afternoon with "Dreamer" - music maestro at Mac UK

Ebrima

Written by Helen, October 2012.

Q: How are you involved with MAC-UK?

A: I’m a Sound Engineer and Youth Motivator with Mini MAC , which runs at London schools. When I’m there I help young people writing things down into songs, teach them how to stand in front of the mic, how to slow it down, go with the beat and how to record.

Q: What’s the best thing about working with young people?

A: The reward you get at the end of the whole process of talking to them getting to know them and stuff. They come to you for advice about anything about music or if they just want to talk. Some of them are shy. But they’ve got skills. You see the talent when the shyness goes away.

Q: When did you first come across MAC-UK?

A: They used to come to a Youth Centre I went to and do small projects with other people. Every time they’d come and talk to me and say ‘you want to come next door and talk?’ I’d be like ‘Psychologist! No. Not going next door.’ I wasn’t really interested. My head was in a different place at that moment.

Q: When did you start trusting MAC-UK?

A: My friend would be going and doing a project and we’d be cussing him; ‘what you going next door for?’ One day he was saying ‘You’ll like it, you get trips out of here’. So I went next door to see what project they were doing...

Q: When did you start actually liking MAC-UK?

A: MAC-UK had teamed up with ‘Playing On’, a Drama Company. They were trying to put a play on together. I love drama. But at that time my head wasn’t in the place of listening. So when I’d sit there quietly and they’d be like do you want to join in I’d be like, ‘nope’.

I was homeless and had no job. They tried to help me. But at the same time my head wasn’t right. I started I trusting them more. I was seeing one of the MAC Psychologists. Because I trusted him I was like OK the rest of them might be alright.

One day they called me asked them to engineer for them. Then they were calling more and more and more.

Q: How old were you when you were homeless?

A: Just turned 20. I thought, I’m big man why am I still being treated like a kid. I used to clash with my Dad, all the time. One time we’re fine. Next time we clash. Came to the point I just vanished from the house. I felt like, I’ll stay anywhere.

So one night, my Dad didn’t know I’d packed my stuff. I went to a performance I had on and then, from there – homeless. Things doesn’t go as you plan it. But everything happens for a reason.

Q: What was being homeless like?

A: First I was staying with friends here and there but obviously you can’t stay there forever. So you keep moving on. After a while just sleeping at the back of a bus, the train carriage.I didn’t know much things and my head was everywhere. I started getting job-seekers allowance but that didn’t really help. The money had to go on the transport for me to go to bed and breakfast and stay there overnight. So the money was just coming and going coming and going. That’s when my confidence really went down. I wasn’t into listening to anyone.

The manager of KYC Youth Club, who’d been helping me out said ‘you need to go see a Psychologist cause you’re going through a lot of stuff. But I didn’t want to listen, I thought that means I’m mad. I’m not mad. But then he gave me a deal, it was that or no studio. So I went!

Q: How did spending time with MAC- UK help?

A: At first I wasn’t open, then I started opening up. It did help me. It gave me the skills to help myself working with MAC, because they’re Psychologists. It helped me control my anger and my depression.

Q: Have you always liked music?

A: When I was very very little, back in The Congo, everyone would be dancing, and I would be there singing the song. They’d say ‘Why aren’t you dancing?’ I’d say ‘Yeah yeah, I’ll come in a minute’ (he clicks his fingers and nods to an imaginary song). I remember the music had lots of different beats, and songs were long, they would start in one place and end somewhere else!

Q: What’s your favourite type of music at the moment?

A: Erm Reggae. I don’t know why. I’ve just started liking reggae a lot. I like songs that have a message, that make sense.

Q: When did you move to England?

A: When I was 12. End of year 6. I started school not speaking any English, just French and Congolese. I learnt English very quick. A couple of months and I understood most of the things people say. I was more popular at school because I spoke French, I was different and plus when I was younger I was a mad kid at school. So it wasn’t so bad.

Q: What was school like?

A: My high school wasn’t ideal, felt like you were in prison, literally fences everywhere, cameras everywhere, so many fights for no reason. People would be bored so people just started fighting. The teachers were scared of the pupils.

Q: Are you still friends with your school friends?

A: Some of them. Most of them disappeared. I don’t talk to them much. Everyones doing different things. Completely different people doing completely different things. Some end up in Prison that you never thought would end up in prison.

Q: Did you have many hobbies?

A: I started army cadets year 9. It was real marines and soldiers. They would play mind games with your head. But they did teach me confidence and self control.

Q: How about your music?

A: I changed where I wanted to head. I wanted army. I went from drama and music to army. I thought - there’s nothing else really to do.

Q: When did you start thinking - I might be able to do what I really want to do?

A: I went to The College of North West London to do performing arts. After my audition, the teacher liked me, she was like ‘you’re sent from above’. That boosted my confidence. I thought – if I can do this I can do music and other stuff. I don’t really need to go into the army.

First year I was enjoying it, second year falling and then third year I was really falling out. I wasn’t paying no attention in college, not listening to anything they say. Half the class want to learn. Half the class drink because of stuff going on at home.

Q: So what changed?

A: People talked behind my back. That pushes me to prove them wrong. I thought - I didn’t join this course for anyone, I joined to get something out of it, so me slipping up and messing up, I’m only messing up my own future. So that’s when I decided to fix up. I passed the course, with distinction. But this was before I left home. Then I was homeless and couldn’t do anything with it.

Q: What was your most unhappy time in the last 10 years?

A: Being homeless. Because you just feel like no one understands. No one’s around. Friends you thought were friends, were nowhere around.

Q: How do you feel about your life now?

A: There’s always a chance something bad is going to happen. I dunno. Because I’ve been through so much stuff, like even recently. The year all started good and then it started going down fast, then went back up again. So in my head I’m always saying ‘look out for something bad around the corner’.

But I can adapt to things easy. I’m used to bad things happening. So now I just find a way to overcome them.

I get on better with my Step Mum and Dad now I’ve moved out. We talked. He said his side. I said my side. I’ll go over sometimes. It’s how things should have been before.

Q: What’s the best thing that could happen to you in the future?

A: I’m writing a film, based on a play that we did on mental health. It is the stories that were told, mixed together. It’s going to be two parts. The first part I’ve just finished writing. Everyone wants to read the second part, but I haven’t written the second part yet!

Q: So how’s September been so far?

A: It’s been alright. I had an audition at the Roundhouse for a small play. If I get the part, I’ll use that to get an Agent. I’ve got a couple of new songs written down, so right now, I’m trying to put a band together. Maybe I’m doing too many things at the same time!

Q: Anything else?!

A: I can talk for ages!

Q: (I errrrm for a while…) If you could go back and tell your younger self one thing?

A: (Long silence) Good question (he says, laughing). Probably just ‘keep your head up’. Because, if I didn’t go through some of the things I went through then I wouldn’t be here. If I’d said stay away from these people, stay away from them people, don’t say this don’t do this then I might not know some of the things I know now.

My Mum told me, ‘You have to go through hard times to become a man. Every man has to go through hard times. So the things that have been hard, I regret them, but I will never change them. If I didn’t go through them then I wouldn’t be me, now. I wouldn’t be able to pass on my advice to anyone else.

Hear4Youth logo Dreamer

Dreamer's also creating Hear4Youth an online service that will help young people access mental health support. He and some others came up with the idea, inspired by how MAC UK had helped them. Website coming soon!

Read Ebrima's Story Next »
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