Wait, where am I?

May 31, 2007 at 8:11 pm (Beth, Trip 2007)


So, I just woke up from about 22 hours of very restless sleep. When I got home yesterday evening, I had a 101.4 fever with chills, nausea, headache, the whole shebang. I think it was a combination of major jet lag, and emotional and physical exhaustion.

I’m feeling somewhat better now, and I’m excited to go over to Karen’s tonight to chat with everyone and just see the group again. It’s weird having been around everyone pretty much 24 hours a day for the past 2 weeks, and now just not being around them.

It’s nice to be home, and it’s both comforting and strange how quickly I can fall back into comfortable routines.

Right now it’s 4pm here, so it’s 11pm in Nairobi. The kids at Nyumbani and Shangalia are probably sleeping, and they’ll wake up tomorrow and have another day. I can’t begin to explain how much I will miss them all. But such is life, and life goes on. I just feel blessed to have been able to share the time I did with the kids.


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Sustaining the Experience

May 28, 2007 at 5:36 am (Karen, Trip 2007)

The seeds have been planted…the connections have been made…the music has been recorded and the extensive video footage documents both the process and the product. But now what? The trip was so short and condensed – can we put this in a bottle and take it home with us? Not really.

This experiential-immersion learning opportunity has complemented the academic studies and encouraged reflection – it gave the students a fresh look at themselves, their education and the world around them. What was profound for me was the student’s accelerated learning curve – in the final practicums in music therapy at Berklee, students are working in medical settings, primarily with children who are quite ill. Students learn to take musical risks, “embrace rejection” as a means to develop self awareness and the confidence to step into the unknown. Sometimes, it takes 2 semesters for the students to begin to understand the process.

For the students on this trip, it was almost immediate. They were ready and open and supported – internally and externally. Across from the PanAfric Hotel, where we are staying, there is a large building called ‘Integrity Centre’ – I think it is an office building, but it really doesn’t matter – these students are responsible, accountable and have much integrity. There has been plenty of opportunity to party and go out ‘clubbing’ but collectively they decided it would take away the focus of the work that is so important. I admire and respect each of them so much. They are leaders and will help set the agenda for music therapy in the future.

I dream of tomorrow, today…

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Music is Life

May 27, 2007 at 9:17 pm (Amanda, Trip 2007)

Today was amazing, beautiful, inspiring and bittersweet. It was our last day at Nyumbani, and it was a day that I really, really saw music working it’s magic to connect.

We started the morning off by attending mass with the children at Nyumbani. Music and dance are so intertwined with their everyday lives and it was so beautiful to see the children so engaged and alive. The service was beautiful; many words about unity and connection between people of different cultures, societies, worlds. I was so moved, and felt honored to be a part of everything.

The day was so full. We stayed after the service was over, and started playing music with the kids immediately. They are always so eager to sing with us, and I know that it’s the catalyst for our connections. I ended up with a little girl named Anne, who is new at Nyumbani. She is about 3 years old and doesn’t speak, make eye contact, and generally seems pretty withdrawn. However, when I started singing with her, “I want to sing sing sing, I want to dance dance dance, I want to sing, I want to dance all day long!” and moving with her and bouncing her up and down, a bright grin spread across her face and she started giggling and laughing and making eye contact with me. Then she really started to open up and began really dancing with me… it was really moving and I really felt something click within me during that moment. I have no idea what traumatic experiences she has been through, but I was able to reach her and tap into the child within her in that moment, and it was beautiful.

Summer, Wyndy and I wrote a song a few days ago called “I Dream of Tomorrow Today”. We decided to record the kids at Nyumbani talking about their dreams and what they want to do in their futures. It’s amazing, because these children have such BIG dreams, and many wouldamanda11.jpg assume that since they have HIV or AIDS that they wouldn’t. It amazed and moved me that so many of the children wanted to become doctors. We’re going to put their voices into a recording of the song that we’re planning on doing when we get back to the states, and I can already feel how moving it will be.

Another thing that I was able to do today was work with Victor, who is 19 years old, and is a rapper. We worked together on Garageband and I helped him put together a beat, and we then recorded his song. It was amazing how different he was before and after the music. Before we worked together, he was withdrawn, very shy, didn’t make eye contact and would disappear often. The transformation was so drastic while the music began to unfold. He started opening up to me, joking with me, and talking about his future. He said that he does want to be a musician, but he also wants to be a doctor, because he has seen so much sickness and so many people who have not been helped. He also told me he wants to get his phD someday. I know he will if he’s given the opportunity.

What we are doing here is beyond the reaches of my mind to comprehend right now. We’re really making an impact, in a way which I didn’t think was possible. I KNOW it is because of the music we are sharing, and I KNOW that the connections that we make would not be as deep and meaningful without it. It was so difficult to leave today and to say goodbye to the children, however, I know we will all be back, and I think the children really believe that too.

What an amazing adventure this has been. Asante to everyone who has been with us every step of the way.

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Good friends never say goodbye

May 27, 2007 at 7:54 pm (Miriam, Trip 2007)

To restate what Beth already said, I too had a difficult time leaving the girls at Nyumbani. Although I didn’t shed many tears, my heart was crying. I have so many questions. Will I see them again? Will they be there if I do go back? Will they remember me? Will I remember them? Will they continue to write songs and perform? Will we keep in touch? It is so easy to numb the feelings of separating from a place that carries so much stimulation. In a few days I’ll be back in my apartment in the midst of Jamaica Plain, MA. How will I learn to reintegrate the daily routine with the two week experience that occurred way way way way far away? The key for me is to figure out how to keep Kenya and the children in my heart, because I don’t want these memories to ever expire. I expect that this trip has allowed new challenges to blossom, and through this, there is a much wider expansion of possibility.

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A hard goodbye

May 27, 2007 at 7:24 pm (Beth, Trip 2007)

Today was our last day at Nyumbani. It was so hard. I can’t really explain it right now because I am so numb and overwhelmed. Miriam and I connected with some of the teenage girls there, and we wrote a song that we recorded at a professioal studio yesterday. It was hard saying bye to them today.

I’m pretty tired right now, so there’s not much brain function happening. This entry is mainly just to say hi and that things are good, intense, hard, sad, frustrating, amazing, heartbreaking, bittersweet, happy, funny, tragic, and beautiful.

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better, but harder

May 26, 2007 at 6:40 pm (Amanda, Trip 2007)

Every day becomes more and more difficult for us as the realities of what we’re doing, the span of our work and the connections we are making become clearer. These are also reasons why each day becomes better and better.

All of us have fallen in love. There is an energy with these children and a passion with which they sing and play music and LIVE that astonishes all of us, coming from the society that we do. It’s a different passion, drive, energy that none of us feel we have ever lived with, and the lessons we are learning from these children will continue to effect us.

I’m having a hard time processing. At night I just need to cry, and sometimes I do, sometimes I can’t. Wyndy keeps reminding us this is not about us, and is so much bigger than us, bigger than we can even imagine or fathom….

This has to be short, I’m having a hard time coming up with words to explain everything… I’m in love with these children, and I am dreading Tuesday.. I miss everyone at home, but leaving is so hard…. who knows when we will return..? But I know we will… I think we all do…

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