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Laurie's 'Survivor girl ukulele band'

Laurie Kallevig founded the survivor girl ukulele band project.1 / 6
David Evert, left, and Laurie kallevig talk about their projects. Evert works in Africa and kallevig in India. Both are Wadena locals.2 / 6
Students use colorful ukuleles to make music.3 / 6
Several girls attend survivor girls ukulele class in India.4 / 6
Graduates of the survivor girls ukulele class will be given their own ukulele, donated by Kala Music Company.5 / 6
Kallevig teaches students at a survivor girls ukulele class.6 / 6

Ethelyn Pearson

On Aug. 15, 2013, Laurie Kallevig climbed into a three-wheel auto rickshaw in Mumbai, India, that took her back to the airport where she boarded a mammoth Delta Air France plane on the next leg of her journey to Wadena. Rev. Lloyd Kallevig, her father, lives there.

Once back in the states, Laurie became embroiled in filling the coffers for her 'Survivor girl ukulele band project. The name survivor girl is not a misnomer. It means exactly that: the all-girl band is made up of survivors of one of the most horrendous sex-trafficking rings in the world.

The splendid idea of putting together a ukulele band made up of victims-turned-survivors came to Kallevig while she was touring the east. In 1999, she went on a year-long odyssey around the world. After a few days on the lower slopes of Everest in Nepal and riding a camel in the Thar Desert in India, Tibet was the next destination. Kallevig also spent some time traveling in southeast Asia.

It was while in Tibet that a UNICEF worker from Nepal told Kallevig about the trafficking of thousands of girls from Nepal and India. Ever since then, Kallevig has not been able to put the girls from her thoughts. The flotsam and human wreckage that abounds there sprawls and is strewn everywhere. She knew she had to do something.

Kallevig went to India, guitar in hand, and volunteered with an organization in Delhi. A day later after signing and playing her guitar with a group of girls, the idea of forming an all-girl band came to her. Learning to play the ukulele followed.

Girls 12 to 18 were entranced. She handed one of them a colorful ukulele. The girl strummed it; while she played, she was taken out of the sordid existence that was hers into a loving place where she was safe. She was smiling.

"I believe the call of music is transformative. It can help drown out, take the place of the ugliness in their lives. It is the only thing they know," Kallevig said.

About then the first strains of what a survivor girls' ukulele band were envisioned, could sound like and Kallevig's new project was born.

Fast forward to last spring: Sitting cross-legged in Pune, India, Kallevig plays her uke with the brightly dressed class in front of her - survivor girls about to graduate. Upon graduation each girl will be given a ukulele of her own, donated generously by Kala Music Company.

Kallevig can't wait to get back to India, with 24 instruments from Kala Music Company. She loves the girls and lets them know it. Several of them show potential to teach ukulele. She has given them a start. The monster plane Kallevig boards will soon be flying its way back to India. She will miss her father, identical twin sister Lois in Phoenix, Ariz. and placid Wadena.

Kallevig will be working with a home for rescued girls in Mysore, India, for the next six months and she is looking forward to seeing her students on their way to reclaiming their hope and joy of music.

To those who would like to learn more or join the band via financial donation, please visit Kallevig's blog at or website at