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Giving kids self-belief

When former Gisborne Boys’ High School student Mustafa “Mussie” Sheikh started to learn the piano he was given a cardboard cut-out with a piano keyboard drawn on it.

He has come a long way since then.

Having grown up seeing friends struggle in low socio-economic environments, he founded the Bread Charity in 2017 to help students with career guidance, goal-setting and creating a positive mindset.

The latest of Mussie’s several charitable projects is the installation of recording studios at five locations over the next 12 months.

Mussie’s home town is one of those locations and he has already made contact with a Gisborne youth support organisation to discuss a suitable site.

The Bread studios are aimed at supporting children from low socio-economic backgrounds, he says.

“These are mostly children who have no house to stay in or are displaced from home. We want to ensure they remain positive and have something in life they can look forward to and enjoy.

“By creating studios we’re not only giving kids something proactive, we’re giving them a place where they can be, and what they want to be.”

The first studio opened this week in Te Atatu, Auckland. As is planned for each of the five studios, the Te Atatu site is fitted with quality equipment and furnishings.

“It’s a music space fully fitted with the latest Apple computer, new guitar and keyboard,” Mussie says.

“While it revolves around making music, the wider picture is it gives these kids self-belief they can apply to other parts of their lives. The whole reason behind buying new was to create a sense of respect. You can be whoever you want to be in this room.”

The studio teaches kids how to start with an idea, brand it, release it, market it, he says.

“Creating such a medium also opens the door for me to ask my celebrity mates or successful people in the music industry around the world to teach these kids. I have a few Zoom lessons organised from some amazing people around the world just to teach the kids how to make a beat or how to rap over a beat.”

The vision is about teaching disadvantaged kids life-skills with music as the medium.

In 2019 Mussie’s philanthropic endeavours brought him back to Gisborne and the East Coast with All Black and Coastie Nehe Milner-Skudder to talk to children about their respective journeys.

In February last year, he rolled out a well-being, check-in email function developed for more than 200,000 New Zealand children and young people. During lockdown last year, he donated a $1000 wager he lost during a 10-round bout of the video game Call of Duty with mixed martial arts exponent Shane Young. He gave the money to a Tairawhiti family in need.

He now plans to build a recording studio for disadvantaged kids in Gisborne and seeks support from local businesses and individuals.

“The idea has been in my mind for some time but implementing it has been near impossible,” he says.

“What I’d like to see is proactive people. I want people who would like to be part of this.”

For more information about Bread Charity and the recording studio project, or to contact Mussie, go to bread.org.nz

Mustafa (Mussie) Sheikh is seeking local support to set up a recording studio in Gisborne. Pictures supplied
GETTING STUCK IN: Here Mustafa (Mussie) Sheikh is on the end of a paint roller working to turn a bare space into a furnished studio in Te Atatu, Auckland. The studio opened this week, and is the first of five Mussie hopes to provide for disadvantaged kids. Pictures supplied