Me with the girls of Daraja Academy in Nanyuki, Kenya
The Song Exchange Project
About 10 years ago Roberta was reflecting on what kind of work she could do that would make her truly happy and also make a contribution to others. A thought jumped immediately to mind - the work would involve traveling to cultures other than her own, teaching the songs she has learned and gathering new ones to teach once she returned home. She would connect with others through the medium of song. In her mind she named this work "The Song Exchange Project" and didn't think about it again until she was invited to teach at Daraja Academy in KENYA. She had an extraordinary experience there in February of 2014. She thinks of the girls often as she teaches their songs in Swahili and Samburu at Community Sings here at home.
Then she was invited on a trip to Haiti!
THE SONG EXCHANGE PROJECT became a reality.
For the first 2 weeks of January, 2015 Roberta participated in a trip organized by Nat and Pam Benjamin described in this wonderful article. It involved teaching and learning at Sister Flora's Orphanage and at the Community Center in Il A Vache, Haiti.
Click here for information about the orphanage.
And here for a link to a recently publshed article about THE SONG EXCHANGE PROJECT.
Upon return from Haiti she learned that she had been invited back to Kenya to work with students at Daraja Academy and also children involved in The Simama Project. She was very excited to see the Daraja students again and fell in love with the children of the Simama Project who are transitioning from living on the street to going back to school in a supportive, healthy environment. She also had the opportunity to work with Kenyan teachers who teach the curriculum created by the Children's World Peace Organization, She travelled with them to area schools and worked with over 1000 young people, sharing and learning songs of peace.
THE SONG EXCHANGE PROJECT is growing and evolving.
During the winter of 2016 she was able to spend a month in Africa - two weeks in Nanyuki, Kenya where she reconnected with the teachers and students she had met and worked with before and then two weeks in St Francis Bay, South Africa where she worked with students at a local high school, two primary schools, several churches and at local preschools, in addition to sharing songs with women who are part of the knitting collective Nomvula's Knitters
Her travels in February and March of 2017 took her back to Kenya for expanded work in Nairobi as well as in the Nanyuki area and to Italy where she taught a workshop and gathered songs. In 2018 she continued her work in Nairobi and Nanyuki, traveled to Livingstone, Zambia, where she worked with the women of the Zambezi Doll Company and at an area primary school, to Nagold, Germany, where she worked with middle schoolers and adults and to Italy for a return visit.
For photos and more information about her travels for The Song Exchange Project please read her blogposts.
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The girls at Daraja Academy spend part of every Saturday sorting beans which are a big part of their diet. I found this to be a perfect time to learn their songs and teach some of mine.
This is Faustine who helped me tremendously by wrtiting down many of the songs that the girls had sung for me.
In Haiti on Il La Vache. Leading a song circle with children at the Community Center.
With children at the Methodist Primary School in Nanyuki, Kenya
Teaching the line dance, Alabama Gal, at the Simama Project Transition Home.