When Canadian expatriate Luther Kosowan was a little boy, he became fascinated by an article in National Geographic about an unfamiliar far-away land called Waitukubuli. About 55 years later, his daughter and friends vividly described a recent trip to a wonderful Caribbean island of lush green mountains, sparkling rivers and plentiful palm trees. It was called Dominica. Then in 2006, Luther and his wife Ruth journeyed to this beautiful tropical paradise to see it for themselves.
During that first visit, they immediately fell in love with the country`s natural beauty and friendly people. Upon their return to Canada, they immediately organized and planned for an overseas move to Dominica. However, they experienced an unforeseen delay when Luther was diagnosed with cancer. But the couple`s determination and vision of their new life sustained them. After Luther`s surgery and radiation therapy were completed, they finally arrived in Dominica around Christmas 2007. The couple was thrilled with Luther`s miraculous recovery. They were further delighted when told that the intriguing country called Waitukubuli was in fact, Dominica, their adopted home!
Right away, the Kosowans connected to their new community and greatly appreciated the love of music that prevails on Dominica. They enthusiastically created a non-profit organization called Music Missions International (M.M.I.) so that students and their teachers at participating schools around the island could have access to various types of musical instruments and learn how to play them.
This incredible dream is being realized with assistance from some dedicated volunteers and generous sponsors. Along with Luther and Ruth Kosowan, fellow western Canadians Mike and Sharleen Townsend and Don Lowry help with this invaluable project in many ways. The Townsends not only initiated making contacts to obtain the musical instruments, but have also come to Dominica for six weeks in each of the past six years to train the teachers and students. As well, Luther and Ruth regularly acquire additional instruments and humanitarian supplies during their annual trips to Canada.
To date, schools in Dominica have received over 600 musical instruments and accessories as a result of this collaborative effort.
In addition, Mr. Egbert Charles of E.H. Charles & Co. Ltd. in Roseau has kindly provided materials so that Luther and Mike could build 60 music stands. They
have now been distributed to all schools involved in the M.M.I. program. Mr. Charles continues to assist M.M.I. by sponsoring materials for an Instrument Repair Technology course to be held at the Dominica State College where Luther will be the instructor. As a result, all instruments will be maintained in good working condition.
For Luther and Ruth, their dream of giving back to Dominica has certainly come true. In 2012, 102 students from around the Nature Island performed in a band concert. Then, the very next year, 200 students from 16 school bands `raised the roof` at the Arawak House of Culture in Roseau. You can read about that memorable event here.
As Music Missions International continues to thrive, the Kosowans thank God for their fulfilling lives on Waitukubuli!
*Waitukubuli (pronounced Why-too-KOO-BOO-lee)is the indigenous Kalinago word for Dominica. It means “tall is her body.”
**This article first appeared in the Dominica Association of Music Educators (DAME) November 2014 Newsletter. Information provided by Mrs. Ruth Kosowan was subsequently edited by Gwendominica for the original submission, which is republished here ( with slight variations) with the kind permission of DAME. Photos provided courtesy of Ruth Kosowan, with thanks.