Fr. Lijo Thomas performs with his band members Fr. Lijo Thomas performs with his band members 

‘Let Us Dream:’ Music empowering people and communities

The ‘Let Us Dream’ organziation in India works to empower people through music and shared creativity. Its founder, Fr. Lijo Thomas, recounts how it all began and his work around the world.

By Agnel Maria

Let Us Dream Organization works as an international movement for empowering youngsters, teenagers, adults of various religion, ethnicities and cultures through music. They have different chapters to encourage and motivate the community by conducting Ted talks, summer camps, workshops, outings, fellowship events, etc. According to Father Reverend Lijo Thomas Pathickal, of the Congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), is its founder who focuses on the humanitarian mindset for the framework of the organization. Fr. Lijo was extremely happy to see that the Holy Father’s encyclical letter, ‘Laudato Si’ has themes similar to that of the organization.

The organization has even received a letter of appreciation from the Vatican for its contribution to the society. The organization has a clear vision to empower communities. This powerful vision has led to the establishment of multiple chapters under the DREAMS project worldwide. One of the organization's most unique and exciting features is its commitment to nurturing talent and potential. This organization pushes you to find your skill set and discover yourself better as they firmly believe that talent needs no filter.

Historical beginnings of the Organization

Fr. Lijo began his journey in the church choir, and made his way to the college rock band as they were in need of a guitarist. Despite his skills he was asked to pretend to play the guitar although the band created music which marked the band's humble beginnings. Divine intervention and Fr. Lijo's willingness to adapt played a significant role in the formation.

He felt that he was out of place, introverted, and wasn't the smartest before he started to believe in himself and his talents. This made Fr. Lijo the best spokesperson to motivate and encourage the youth and adults, as many of them tend to compare themselves to others which makes them doubt themselves and question their abilities. He began playing soft rock and even became the leader of a band which boosted his self-confidence. Later, he acquired facilities for the band and proposed the idea of going to different schools to sing classics such as 'Heal the World' by Michael Jackson, in order to engage with the children.

The name of the band, “Dreams” came into being at Union Christian College Aluva, Kerala, India. The band was inspired by the former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s book, “Wings of Fire” that talks about dreaming and following your dreams. Fr. Lijo believes that there are two essential components that keep the band together: fun and purpose. By creating an environment that's both enjoyable and meaningful, he's been able to attract new members to the organization. His main ingredient is making music through which the audience feel inspired. Most of the songs were written based on Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s book.

Challenges make the journey worthwhile

There were multiple times when the team was disappointed, and faced troubles along their journey. After their first gig they were not acknowledged for all the hard work that they put into producing music and albums on a local television channel. When they voiced that they had not received the due recognition for their work, they were blamed for not having signed any official contract. So, the Television channel was not held accountable for the copyright infringement.  He also said, “I’ve learned through experience that hard work always pays off, even if we don't receive the credit we deserve instantly. Our Lord provides for us and watches over us, even in our times of hardship and loneliness.” Although the team faced a lot of rejection, Fr. Lijo saw it as an opportunity to create new initiatives and open doors for those who were overlooked and did not get a chance. He remained proactive and was determined to make a positive impact despite the setbacks.

Band members perform together
Band members perform together

Numerous Programs the Band conducts

The band members of DREAMS, who call themselves Dreamers, embarked on a bus trip to perform stage shows, including music, dance, and theatre, addressing 53,000 students beginning from Trivandrum and ending in Bangalore. This was a special initiative to celebrate Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara's 200th birthday, who is the founder and patron of CHRIST (Deemed to be University. The Band recently had a very successful performance at CHRIST (Deemed to be University) Lavasa in Pune, India. The Dream of the Founder is DREAMS is to become a connection between people, such as the students going to the local communities and empowering each other. 

Band members interact with the young audience
Band members interact with the young audience

Impact on audience

The main component for creating an impact is through the band’s musical performances. But apart from that there are motivational talks between the songs. The songs they perform are based on a message; between each song the band members interact with the audience by sharing their personal anecdotes. The band emphasizes on their lyrics and to help audience have a better understanding of the message. Performing regularly and preparing for events is not easy but the letters and drawings from the kids for whom the band performs, makes everything worthwhile. Both the audience and the band members inspire each other to keep going.

Group photo of the band members
Group photo of the band members

Band members as one Family

The preparation for each performance is an exciting journey for the band members. After their intense practice sessions, they spend quality time together, checking in on each other and discussing any concerns that arise. This is a safe space for them to experiment with their creativity and identify any shortcomings from previous performances. Overall, the process of preparing for performances is a collaborative effort that involves practicing, reflecting, and bonding as a team.

A band member who had struggled with depression was able to find solace in performing small acts of kindness for children, which gave him a sense of purpose and helped him go on through his daily life. Father Lijo Thomas could not have achieved all of this on his own. The success of the project was due to the hard work and dedication of the faculty members and students who shared his vision and passion for making a positive impact on the world. It’s important to recognize the contributions of everyone involved in a project, as it takes a team to achieve great things.

Fr. Lijo and the Dreamers have created a supportive and welcoming community that empowers individuals of all ages and backgrounds to reach their full potential. Fr. Lijo's personal story of overcoming shyness and self-doubt to become a successful musician and leader is an inspiration to many, his message of hope and possibility resonates with people everywhere. With its commitment to nurture talent and potential, Let Us Dream is building a brighter future for many.  

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21 July 2023, 16:03