It began on the island nation of the Philippines.
During December 2005 Damien Thornber visited the Philippines. Here he was moved by the resilience of those he saw living in poverty. Feeling it was his responsibility, as an individual fortunate enough to be living in a wealthy society, to help those that needed it he set up VOW (originally Vocational Orphanages of the World) with a colleage, Burnadette Poynter, who now runs Prosperous Future.
With this in place, Damien began to look for a way to incorporate his love music, song-writing and performing. This was the genesis for his philanthropic band of like-minded musicians. Ever since, 100% of CD sales and performance fees are donated to VOW’s charity causes.
His travels next brought him to Indonesia. While filming for a video clip, he chanced upon a simple village called Karangasem. Here he met a small group of local children who could not afford to attend school, would never receive any education, and would continue in a perpetual cycle of poverty. Moved, he offered his support via independent organisation YKIP to send a young girl to school. Upon his return he worked through VOW and it's supporters, eventually securing sponsors for all the youths of Karangasem.
The next important step in VOW’s progression occurred in Africa while Damien was looking into how bio-latrines might be used to help supplement essential services such as health care and schools. During a chance meeting with an UN rep, surrounded by people struggling to get by day-to-day, Damien learned of the disturbing infant mortality rates of Indigenous peoples right here - in Australia. Even in comparison to those around him to whom his heart went out to, what he heard moved him.
Damien was told to look to his own; this he did.
Returning home to Western Australia he got in touch with friend, fellow musician, and indigenous representative Patrick Davies, who invited him out to the Kimberley to meet some of the elders. He saw then all that he was once blind to.
When he asked them over a campfire, under the stars, what he, an ordinary citizen wanting to connect, could do he was asked in return, what could he do?
He could play music. He was running a fledgling charity group. Those her spoke to suggested he use these resources to encourage young people to participate creatively in song writing, dance and music.This was the seed for remote community music workshops, the Desert Feet Tour.
These workshops now encompass poetry, spoken word, song structure, musical performance, rapping and beat boxing.
As this project started taking shape it was apparent these communities did not receive visiting performers often, if at all. As a gesture to their hosts, the Desert Feet Tour also began to provide live concerts; supportive, family-friendly, non-smoking, drug and alcohol free. This is a safe place for locals to gather and even perform. The program is felxible enough to adapt to each town, as needed.
As a fundraiser for this, VOW also establish the annual Artists for Education, a musical festival comprised of socially conscious musicians and performers, run by volunteers and funded by sponsors. All profits go to the Desert Feet Tour project.
Damien Thornber and the Orphans have written and recorded over 35 songs, built a recording studio and are currently recording their second album.