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Hope on a String: Bringing healing music to Haiti

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ARCHIYE, Haiti (PIX11) -- This small storage space in lower Manhattan holds more than just old broken instrument.

It’s filled with a vision Bennett Rathbun had to make a difference in Haiti.

"A violin that’s missing some strings or a saxophone that needs a tune up," Rathbun said.

So four years ago, he left his management consultant job here in New York City to pursue an unexpected opportunity.

"I had a chance to go down to Haiti to help out on a fact finding mission with a foundation that was going to do some work down there," he said. "My eyes were opened to what life is like during a disaster of that magnitude and I felt like I had an obligation to be there and do something that would help out."

Rathbun returned home with a new purpose, and a new mission. After months of planning he launched a non-profit, Hope an a String.

"We work to strengthen communities in Haiti through the universal power of music."

The concept is to collect beat up instruments here in New York and ship them to Haiti to put music in the hands of kids eager to learn.

"After the earthquake there weren’t a whole lot of smiles," Rathbun said.

To benefit from Hope on a String’s free music lessons, Clifton walks to practice. It takes him over an hour -- each way.

Cassandre Chery coordinates the daily operation in Haiti. It has been an inspiring experience.

"Every single time that I see them play music, I feel pride too," Chery said.

Hope On A String took over a former brothel in the rural Haitian town of Archiye.

"The first time we had electricity was 2 years ago," Chery explained.

They transformed that brothel into a community center.  And now many nights, the sounds of Haitian music drifts through the town.

And for Hope on a String, it's not just about the music. They also provide dance and performance classes, in addition to skill building workshops. So far thousands of have been able to benefit -- all for free.

Life changing opportunities built by instruments that no one else wanted.

"To be able to pick up an instrument and see you're capable and doing something beautiful and creating joy in your life and in the lives of others, that’s the spark that you can begin with to do pretty much anything. To see that is unbelievable," Rathbun said.

For more information on Hope on a String and to learn how you can help, visit their website at

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