The report is DONE!

November 4, 2007 at 6:26 am (Amanda, Trip 2007)

cover-multiply-filter2.jpgHello everyone!

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!

Music Therapy in Africa Report 2007


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Back to Boston

June 1, 2007 at 5:55 pm (Amanda, Trip 2007)


Being back is very strange… I think all of us are feeing a disconnect from our surroundings, trying to process what we experienced and handle the how much we are missing the kids.

What an amazing experience… This trip surpassed all of our expectations, and I think our lives have all been changed forever.

To everyone who has been keeping up with us and has been so supportive throughout this whole experience, we will be working on a report to send you, as well as the music that we recorded with the kids.

I miss Benjamin horribly… I can’t stop seeing his sweet little face… and I’ve been reading all the letters that I got from the girls at Shangilia over and over… now that we’ve had the experience, we have to move forward and continue to DO and make our experience into a continuing process…. we can’t stop here, and we won’t…

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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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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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May 22, 2007 at 9:32 am (Amanda, Trip 2007)

I have been having a hard time coming up with words to describe what I’ve been experiencing. Saturday and Sunday were spent at Nyumbani. It is an incredibly beautiful place and the work being done there is unparalleled. It’s clear that they have a great deal more monetary support than Shangilia, but because of this, the kids are able to be on ARV medication and have access to health related things that are essential to battle their disease. It’s funny, the first day that we were there, it didn’t even cross my mind that all of the children have HIV, I was just so happy to see them and to be back there. I made a lot of new friends quickly and met up with some old friends from last January. (Nanay, Jane is doing wonderfully… she sang me a beautiful song she wrote, and she says she misses you)

The second day, Sunday, was a really hard day for me. I’m not sure why exactly, perhaps it was partly because it was Samite’s last day, perhaps I was letting my awareness open more to the realities of these children, but despite what it was exactly, there were several times in which I was really just holding myself together moment by moment. amanda-with-boy-on-her-lap.gif

We played “We Are One” for the kids and sang it a few times through , and strangely, it was only until the third time we were singing it through that I almost lost control of my emotions and started crying. I held it together though and was able to get through the song, but now, sitting here writing this, I can’t quite put my finger on what I was feeling…. it was overwhelming. I think that part of it must have been the feeling of real unity with everyone. As corny as our song is, it really embodies so much about what we are doing, where we are, the experience of being with the children, the great lessons we are learning and the real power that music holds. After that moment, i had to step back a little and allow myself some time to regroup so that I could be 100% present with the kids for the rest of the day. We continued to sing, write songs, play guitar, hear the songs the kids had written and dance. I know that all of us at one point or another have these really intense moments where everything we’re experiencing and witnessing just seems to HIT you, and you have to examine it or else the process will not move forward…. but we’re always moving forward…

These days have been utterly exhausting… emotionally more than physically. I think it’s because we are all leaving ourselves so vulnerable and open to accepting things which are normally very far from our every day experiences, such as children dying, poverty in such expansive numbers, children who have been abused, abandoned, neglected, as well as our own privilege. How can we not examine these things? We have to be open to let these things in, and I feel that all of us are… These children did not ask to have this illness or to have parents who abandonded them– the same way we didn’t ask to be born in the US to parents who would be able to support us growing up. What if I had been born in Africa? Or born onto the streets of Manila? We ARE all one. We ARE all connected. The lives of everyone that we meet are lives that could have been ours. It’s a strange world we live in.

Yesterday, we arrived in Amboselli, to take a break and go on Safari. The scenery is breathtaking , Mt. Kilimanjaro, who showed herself to us today is so majestic and mysterious. The animals are phenomenal, and the beauty of everything is almost overwhelming at times. It’s hard to be away from the kids though, and I miss them terribly. I can’t wait until Thursday when we can go back and be with them. (How am I EVER going to leave?) Something exciting though is that we are going to record “We Are One” with the kids singing and maybe a few other songs that we have written— get them involved. It’s so exciting and I can’t wait to do it. All the kids at Nyumbani are so excited and know all the words already and are so thrilled about the idea of recording with us! I can’t wait to play the songs for everyone back home!

Anyway, it has been a mini-adventure each day. Our group is so connected now, and we are all so close. We’re really leaning on one another for support throughout all this, but hearing that friends back home are keeping up with us is so meaningful too! I love you all!!!

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Beautiful Children

May 18, 2007 at 11:38 pm (Amanda, Trip 2007)

amanda-with-little-girls.gifShangilia… what an amazing place… what beautiful children.

Shangilia is an incredible facility. Mr. Njenga, who is the head of the orphanage is an incredible, compassionate, caring and giving man. They care for over 200 children. Some of them still have families, but their parents are unable to afford to care for them anymore.

We had an incredibly powerful musical experience today. We sang a few songs for the kids after they had performed for us (amazing dancing and singing and drumming– the talent is phenomenal) and then we played them the song that we had written for them the night before. Summer and I played guitar and everyone sang and got the kids involved with movements and singing. Eventually, the kids caught on and while singing, began moving up on the stage to join us. We became a huge group, everyone singing together “We Are One”… It was almost an out of body experience for me. We all felt it– even the littlest of children. It was a moment that went unparalleled for the rest of the day. I know we will have many more.

It’s such a different experience from the last trip, although seeing some of the same kids again is AMAZING. I think the return is important for a lot of these kids– even our group breaking for lunch and actually coming back in the afternoon is a big deal, because so many of them have been abandonded by those who are supposed to care for them the most.

All of us connected with the children… each of us had certian kids that gravitated toward us and would take care of us while we were there, showing us around, teaching us songs, and holding hands. How is it that these children can be so welcoming to strangers? I think a large part of it is the music that we shared together…

I can’t wait to go back…… Things are beautiful here, and are only getting better, day by day.

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