Zambia! Kenya! Germany! Italy!
I returned from my 2018 SONG EXCHANGE adventures mid-March and as usual hit the ground running but I wanted to share some images and stories here before I am totally swept up at home.
My first stop this year was in Livingstone, Zambia where my longtime friend and singing buddy, Marsha Winsryg, works on her African Artists Community Development Project (AACDP) at the Mama Bakhita Home for Disabled Children. I have long wanted to visit there, knowing from Marsha that the women she works with sing all day long while they work. It was such a pleasure to spend my days with them, sewing and singing and singing. I felt like I had come home, being in a community where song is woven into daily life as an essential ingredient.
Marsha and the Zambezi Doll Company crew
Doll makers at work
Dolls before and after! My contribution to the project was to share some ideas on how to doll up the dolls.
Marsha painting with the children of the Mama Bakhita Home for Disabled Children
Dancing (and singing)!
A trip to Livingstone would not be complete without a visit to Victoria Falls. Breathtaking!
Under the Victoria Falls Bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe - soaking wet but very happy!
In addition to singing with the women of the Zambezi Doll Collective I had the pleasure of singing with the children of a primary school directed by an old friend of Marsha's, Sister Bridget.
Last day in Zambia, singing a praise song in Kiswahili that I learned in Kenya and shared in Zambia. For more information about the Zambezi Doll Collective and Marsha's work please visit the AACDP website.
From Zambia I continued on to Kenya where I reconnected with friends and made new ones. After a brief stop in Nairobi I traveled north to Daraja Academy at the base of Mount Kenya in Nanyuki. This was my 5th year visiting this fabulous school which meant that the girls who were participating in the school's post graduate "transition" program were in their first year at the school on my first visit. I have developed relationships with many of the girls over time and it has been very special to witness their growth over the years. They are now women, no longer girls, and they are on a mission to be leaders in the Kenya of tomorrow.
Team building with song. The images below are of me working with first and second year students to help connect old and new students.
Another group that I love to visit in the Nanyuki area are in the photo
below. The Simama Project was founded in 2010 by Matt Orcutt, who was a volunteer at Daraja at the time. In partnership with local leaders and social workers the project has helped many children who were living on the street to have stable lives and to return to school.
I am amazed at how quickly the kids pick up the songs I teach them and how much they remember from year to year. And I don't think I could find a more enthusiastic group of students!
They are a joy to teach and to learn songs from. The girls have taught me some awesome hand clapping songs. I am determined to master the new one they attempted to teach me so that I can keep up with them on my next visit!
After a little over a week in Nanyuki I was scheduled to return to Nairobi to teach at a couple of schools in the city. On the way there I had the opportunity to stop briefly at a lovely little school in the Aberdare mountains, an area I had never been to which is incredibly lush and beautiful and quite a contrast to the arid Nanyuki. I had a blast singing with the lovely children of Flying Kites Leadership Academy, where critically-poor students receive access to a high quality, competitive education. So much fun! I can't wait to go back!