A year has passed since our Music Therapy group returned from the service-learning experience in Kenya. The friends we met have stayed in touch and we are especially connected to the Shangilia Mtoto wa Afrika Children’s Choir in Nairobi. They toured in November 2007 with Songs of the Spirit tour with Hugh Masekela and Odetta throughout New York and many of us were fortunate enough to be with them. Shangilia CDs, entitled Rejoice Child of Africa that were produced by JD Steele (executive producer, Tony Micocci) and recorded in New York City when the children toured New York State in 2007 are now on sale at Java Houses throughout Nairobi.
It is also on sale on the internet at CD Baby at http://cdbaby.com/cd/shangilia. Individual songs are purchasable for digital download. This has been set up through the Shangilia Foundation, USA, so all proceeds net of the handling charges retained by CD Baby, will go to SFUSA.
Our work with Shangilia led us to Kimberly A. Gamble-Payne, Special Adviser, Adolescent Development and Participation Programme Division, who has been advising us on the next phase of development for Music Therapy in Africa. After many meetings, phone calls, and presentations, the next phase of our fact finding mission is bringing us to South Africa.
Brenda Stevens Ross, Manager of the Music Therapy Institute at Berklee and I will be traveling to South Africa to ‘explore possibilities’ of building a new experiential, service learning trip for students in the summer of ’09.
I want to let you all know that I have recently finished the report detailing our group’s experiences in Kenya. Each student and Karen wrote a personal piece which are included in the report along with many photographs, information about each of the travelers, about the orphanages, and the situations in Kenya.
It is a first draft, but I worked very hard on it to share the experience of our journey with all of you. I welcome any comments, questions or suggestions about the report! I hope you enjoy it!
Here is a video of the performance the kids at Shangilia put on for us on the first day we visited. They’re beautiful dancers, and they are so young! Most of the girls are around 10-13 years old. Enjoy!
This is part of a performance that the kids at Shangilia put on for us on the first day. Enjoy!
Of course my mum has been checking it every day and telling me about all the posts, so I was prepared for what I was reading and seeing, but the video brought me back in ways I didn’t realize it would. I immediately broke down in tears for the first time since I have been back. My feeling have also been cut off and pushed away not wanting to deal with the depression and disconnect that we all were told to be prepared for.
My days at home have been filled with seeing old friends and new, catching up on the latest in my hometown, commuting to Boston as much as possible to keep busy and get away from my thoughts.
As I sit here with the utube video on repeat and the sound of the kids singing from my computer I feel as though I was just there yesterday, picking up Joseph and giving him my hat to wear all day, arm wrestling and playing “thumb war”, getting chased and tackled by five kids at once who are all yelling “Rooney” at me, trying to learn lyrics in Swahili from Charles. God I miss Charles so much, so so much, I miss all the kids so much. I’m not even in the video that was recorded because I was hiding in a back classroom with Joseph and John letting them take turns strumming the guitar while I made up songs and they sang along. My heart feels pain that I am not there, and that there is not more I can do at this time for the kids I fell in love with, all of the kids.
I miss the quiet kids, the ones that didn’t run up and grab your hands, or start singing really loudly the moment you taught them a new song, the kids that needed so much work just to get them to crack a smile, the kids you just wanted to hold all fucking day long and never let go of and tell them you would take care of them forever but you couldn’t.
I miss everyone that I traveled with and saw everyday for two weeks, I miss njeru and don. I miss my roomie Amanda (come back to us!), and as the thoughts and fears of being really done with Berklee start to settle in I realize that people like my roomie won’t be in Boston next year, and I have no idea where I’m going to be.
Even as I sit here and write I feel my guard start to go up, something in me that keeps me from letting me feel it all. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to talk to people about what my experience was like, in order for someone to get a true answer out of me, I would have to open my heart and let them look inside, I would have to break down in tears and tell them what every little step of the way felt like, I would have to explain exactly what it was like to walk away from the orphanage at the end of the day, get into a van, and try not to scream and punch the chair in front of me for the whole car ride back to our hotel, chocking back tears and thinking about the kids.
I am so happy that I had a chance to meet and work with you all. This was again a life changing experience for me. The energy you brought to the orphanage in Kenya was amazing. Its hard to explain in words.
When I left everyone after hearing that amazing song “Asante Sana” at Java house, I was filled with so much love and I knew then that my dream had come true. I was finally helping other musicians share the healing power of music. It was great to know that even without me the work can go on! Thank you all for sharing my dream.
The young people whose hearts you touched will never forget you or the experience. It does not matter that you are not there now, your touch will always feel like a warm fire burning in a cold winter and it will keep giving them hopeful even though they have sadness in their lives.
I know exactly how you feel right now, so many questions in your mind. I always get these feelings too. Sometimes its feelings of guilt, sadness, joy at the same time, and for me its mostly guilt that I am not doing enough to make the world a better place, feeling like I could do a lot more than what I am able to do right now. But over the years I have learned that even the little I do makes a big difference.
I have learned this from the letters I get from my fans and also from the orphans or refugees I have visited. This is just the beginning, you will make so many people happy in your life time. Please send my greetings to every one and let them know I love them all.