MUZIKI’s Official Launching in Eldoret, Kenya – Part One

Having just completed MUZIKI’s official launching in Eldoret, Kenya, I am bursting with news and anticipation of great things to come for the One Heart Children’s Home. I must tell you that this project was the result of help and cooperation on the part of several individuals. I could thank about 15 people and the entire M-LISADA Band from Uganda, but let’s focus on the real work of MUZIKI. We were founded to provide quality music education for children who have been orphaned, children who used to live on the streets of Eldoret, Kenya, without the protection and provision one receives as a child in a family. Our banner says, ” MUZIKI—changing children’s lives through music.” Everything about the launching had to do with that phrase.

Some people aren’t really convinced that one’s life can be improved, that is, dramatically changed, through active participation in making music. Part of MUZIKI’s work will be to educate people about the benefits of music education to help develop a whole person. One of the mothers at One Heart said that we can’t just feed and clothe these children and think that they will succeed in the world. She said one can have a college education and still starve, unable to get a job. Children need so much more nurturing if they are to be healed of their horrific pasts and if they are to learn the skills to get and keep a job that will support them.

MUZIKI set about to provide living proof of the power of music to change lives. We invited children from an orphanage in Uganda to come to Eldoret and demonstrate to One Heart and to the community of Eldoret how music has made such a huge impact on their lives.

The One Heart Children are now convinced that the Ugandans can play beautifully on their shiny brass instruments and drums, but how does that affect these kids in Kenya? What does it mean for them? They, surely, could never play such great music! Then, the real work of MUZIKI began. The boys and girls from Uganda began to teach the Kenyan children, in small groups. Every child, no matter how small, got to try any instrument that they wanted, with excellent teaching from the band members. As a seasoned music educator, I had never seen anything like this before!

Then came the big moment—for the first time ever, the One Heart Children’s Band played!! For any musicians reading this blog, the children were all taught to play either C’s or G’s, and to play the same rhythmic pattern. When they performed for the first time, they all played the same thing together!! Ingenious!! Hopefully, the success that these children experienced will stay with them and motivate them until next spring when their instruments come to Kenya and they can begin music lessons.

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Arriving for dinner in Eldoret at 2:30 AM, after a very long, stressful trip from Uganda
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Feeling rested and eager to go to the One Heart Home and share their music
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Unpacking instruments at One Heart Children’s Home, Kenya
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It takes a lot of work to get set up. Note their banner, “Music to the Rescue”.
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Gathering the children at One Heart to see and hear instruments that they never even heard of before. Staff manager, Elisha Were is pictured with Jean MacLeod.
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Jean and children marching to the M-LISADA March, composed by Jim Trott of Brass for Africa, the organization that provided teaching and all funding for this trip to help the MUZIKI launch. Note: Elisha covering up and moving all the maize (corn) that has been drying in the sun before bagging it for storage
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M-LISADA, playing their best as Godfrey Mboira directs
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Sylvia amazes all as she moves as though she is made of rubber
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MUZIKI music teacher and Board member, Benson Koech, joining in on his violin
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Teaching and learning at One Heart
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Teaching and learning at One Heart
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Teaching and learning at One Heart
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Teaching and learning at One Heart
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Teaching and learning at One Heart
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Teaching and learning at One Heart
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Teaching and learning at One Heart
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Teaching and learning at One Heart
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Teaching and learning at One Heart
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Teaching and learning at One Heart
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First Performance
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First Performance
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First Performance
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First Performance

Raising Money for Instruments

During the next couple of months, many people give a special gift to needy people, particularly needy children. Many like to share the spirit of the holidays with others who do not have the benefits and luxuries that some people have. We are raising money to purchase instruments for the children at One Heart Children’s Home. Please visit our razoo fundraising site and please consider making a contribution so that we can buy instruments and begin teaching the children how to play them. Also, if you like what you see, please consider sending the link http://www.razoo.com/br/causes/Muziki-4-Kenya to your friends and family members. Imagine people from all over the country, even the world, reaching out to Kenya after they have recently suffered so much with the attack at Westgate mall in September!

Muziki – Phase One

The last few months at MUZIKI have passed like a blur because of the wind storm of activity that has taken place. This activity has launched us into the second phase of development, actually beginning the work.  Our Board of Directors (BOD) is outfitted with four Kenyans, with their own set of tasks and four Americans, with our set. If it were a race, I would say that the Kenyans are winning.

Our main task in Kenya is to find the children’s home that would be the best match for the MUZIKI program. We set our priorities, then began searching.

PHASE: ONE

Kenyan Board members, Ben Koech and Dan Otieno, contacted, and sometimes visited, 15 different orphanages or children’s homes, as we prefer to call them. These homes are located in Eldoret, Kenya. They gave each home director a letter of introduction, which explained who and what MUZIKI is — an organization to bring a life-giving, life-changing music education program to impoverished children in Kenya. They then gave each director an application, taking time to explain how to proceed, when and where to return the completed application. These letters and applications were published and printed at Utafiti Foundation.

In the United States, Karen Winters and Jean MacLeod employed brain power, phone power, the power of spoken and written communication, and the power of the Internet to create the letters and the applications distributed by the Kenyans.

In the meantime, Karen continued working on the By-Laws and the Conflict of Interest Policy. We discussed opening a bank account, buying insurance and focusing on all the time-devouring work that one must complete to properly establish a not-for-profit organization.

In Kenya, during this flurry of organizing, Prof. Wanyama, visited our big brother program, our mentors from Brass for Africa in Kampala, Uganda. He spent three days with Jim Trott, observing lessons, rehearsals and talking about their outstanding music program that has brought such enthusiasm for living, to these formerly homeless children.

In Nairobi, Dr. Shitandi was scouring the area for reliable, skilled instruments sales and repair people for MUZIKI to work with. Eventually, we were directed to an establishment in Nakuru, much closer to Eldoret than Nairobi.

In the USA, Cindy Kissane and Jean began the tedious work of applying for the 501c3, which will make MUZIKI a tax exempt organization, a legitimate not-for-profit, licensed by the United States federal government. This application is a work in progress.

Prof. Joanna Masingila put her adept computer skills and vast experience to work to develop this website and to prepare our on-line marketing presentation. The video was completely done by Emma Ryan, Cindy’s daughter, a college freshman, who took time out of her week’s vacation to create the video that will be seen by hundreds of people. Amelia Ryan, another of Cindy’s daughters, provided the narrative for the video.

In Kenya, the directors of various children’s homes were excited. Some wanted us to choose their home right away and come in to teach music. A few called several times to see what progress was being made. We were reviewing applications, talking to Ben and Dan, and the whole BOD met to see if a clear direction toward one place was indicated. Was one home rising to the top and standing out to be a good fit?

END OF PHASE ONE: WE FOUND OUR HOME!!  THE ONE HEART CHILDREN’S HOME

The website www.oneheartchallenge is a good place to learn about One Heart.  Founder and Director Dean Landy, from Australia, and the Home’s two managers, Lawrence Mafabi and Elisha Were, are all so thrilled to have MUZIKI coming. They feel that waiting until 2014 to teach music lessons and to build up a brass band is too far into the future. They want us to come right away, so Benson has agreed to begin singing and recorder lessons with the children in early October.

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Administrative Assistant, Lillian Nabwire, at Utafiti, preparing the documents to go out
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Prof. Wanyama, a board member and founder of Utafiti, sending Ben and Dan out to visit the children’s homes
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Karen, scanning the documents through cyberspace to Prof. Wanyama
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Prof. Wanyama and Jim Trott at M-LISADA in Kampala, Uganda
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One Heart Children’s Home

The Genesis of Muziki

Every organization has its story, its genesis, takes its first breath. MUZIKI has a unique birth as well. Following, is the story, as simple as it is.

It was Saturday night, December 1, 2012.The week long choral music workshop in Eldoret, Kenya had just been completed. We had closing ceremonies, complete with a great Kenyan dinner and performances from a vocal jazz group from Moi University, concert and dance music by the Administration Police Band, awards, certificates, laughter and affection flowing over from person to person, from police officer to civilian, from instructor to student. I knew that I would miss these wonderful people. I felt close to many of them, especially the women, and although I had been there for three weeks, the end of my time there seemed to pop up, almost taking me by surprise. I had been so busy preparing and teaching that I never noticed that the days were flying past.

You know how you just know because you know? Sunday morning, December 2, 2012, a very strange thing happened. I woke KNOWING I would be back to Kenya and furthermore, that I would be staying for a long time. I just knew it, deep inside. But, why? What would I be doing? The thought was overwhelming to me, but as a person of faith, I knew there would be an answer.

After a conversation with Dr. Mellitus Wanyama, my Kenyan teaching colleague and now, a MUZIKI Board Member and a long phone call to Reuben Kigame, well-known Gospel singer and Kenyan radio personality, it was clear to all three of us that this idea to return for an extended period of time needed much time and contemplation.

In January 2013, Kevin Dorsey, our ukulele teacher at The Greater Syracuse School of Music, posted a link to a British charity doing amazing music work in Africa, on his face book wall. I was intrigued and compelled to see what it was. There, my eyes were opened to the wonderful

self-confidence, determination, beauty, in people whose lives had been on a dead-end street, a course with little hope for a productive, satisfying future. I saw videos of former African street children living in an orphanage in Africa. There are children who had nothing, who now have the joy of playing in a brass band, children who read music, children who have hope that they can be more than slum dwellers, and that their future can be bright. That day, my purpose for returning to Kenya became clear.  START THIS KIND OF PROGRAM IN ELDORET, KENYA.

So next was creating the name of the new organization. Right away, I knew I had a name for it—MUZIKI. Muziki means music in Kiswahili, one of the official languages in Kenya, the other being English. Muziki almost looks like,  sounds like ‘music’ in English. The pronunciation is moo-ZEE-kee. The black, red and green stripes framing MUZIKI are the colors in the Kenyan flag. Shortly after that, I saw it as an acronym—M.U.Z.I.K.I.  It represents Music Unleashing Zeal In Kenyan Individuals.

Through this web, all will learn that music students in Africa scored much higher on their national exams after studying a musical instrument than before they studied music. We will see that a town is proud of these young talented musicians who were once formerly looked upon as ‘street children’.  On this web site will be evidence that children who once had little motivation are growing full of zeal to succeed. The potential to impact young people’s lives for good is far greater than any of us can imagine.

To find out how this program works, how it got started, our Kenyan music teacher and MUZIKI Board Member, Benson Koech went to Kampala, Uganda to visit a music project which began when one street child begged a music teacher to show him how to play the trumpet, a sound he loved when he heard it from outside the school where the musician was teaching. The teacher finally relented and taught Bosco Segawa how to play the trumpet. That was in 1996. This act of kindness changed Bosco’s life from a non-productive street life to become the director of a large arts center in the slums of Kampala.

The Ugandans welcomed Ben and explained many aspects of their program to Benson. After three days there, Benson returned to Eldoret, convinced and committed to help launch such a life-giving program there.

Fast forward to today, March 23, 2013 and I am so happy to tell you that we have our very first contribution to MUZIKI. Chuck Prosser, outstanding Physical Therapist and owner of Multisport in Liverpool, NY, presented me with a fine folding music strand. Everyone who plays an instrument, plus each instructor needs a music stand. Thank you, Chuck.

 

 

What’s in a Name?? PLENTY!!

muzikilogo with gold backgroundSo … next was creating the name of the new organization. Right away, I knew I had a name for it–MUZIKI. Muziki means music in Kiswahili, one of the official languages in Kenya, the other being English. Muziki almost looks like, sounds like “music” in English. The pronunciation is moo-ZEE-kee. The black, red and green strips framing MUZIKI are the colors in the Kenyan flag.

Shortly after that, I saw it as an acronym—M.U.Z.I.K.I.  It represents Music Unleashing Zeal In Kenyan Individuals.

Through this web, all will learn that music students in Africa scored much higher on their national exams after studying a musical instrument than before they studied music. We will see that a town is proud of these young talented musicians who were once formerly looked upon as ‘street children’.  On this web site will be evidence that children who once had little motivation are growing full of zeal to succeed. The potential to impact young people’s lives for good is far greater than any of us can imagine.

On a personal note, the first time I went to Kenya, I was on a mission trip in 2009, and stayed in a rural village called Kamanzi. Some people there gave me a Kenyan name—Muziki!

Inspiration from Across the Pond– the United Kingdom

In January 2013, Kevin Dorsey, our ukulele teacher at The Greater Syracuse School of Music, posted a link on his face book wall and it grabbed my attention. It was a link to a British charity doing amazing music work in Africa, Brass for Africa. I was intrigued and compelled to see what it was. There, my eyes were opened to the wonderful self-confidence, determination and joy, in young people whose lives had been on a dead-end street, a course  with little hope for a productive, satisfying future.

I saw videos of former African street children living in an orphanage in Africa. The children who now live there, had nothing before the music program came into being….nothing except the determination of a former street kid who learned to play the trumpet. Nothing has stopped him from sharing that experience with dozens of others. Bosco Segawa is pictured here with the children.

Musicians from London, motivated by Jim Trott,  contributed used and new band instruments, music stands  and money to build a band program in the African slum. Now these children have the joy of playing in a brass band. These are now children who read music, children who have improved in their academics, children who have hope that they can be more than slum dwellers and that their future can be bright. That music program now even helps to support the orphanage with clothes and supplies. That day, my purpose for returning to Kenya became clear.  START THIS KIND OF MUSIC PROGRAM IN ELDORET, KENYA!DSC01104.JPGUganda

 

“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”

second download-eldoret 061Every organization has its story, its genesis, takes its first breath. MUZIKI has a unique birth as well. Following, is the story, as simple as it is.

It was Saturday night, December 1, 2012.The week long choral music workshop in Eldoret, Kenya had just been completed. We had closing ceremonies, complete with a great Kenyan dinner and performances from a vocal jazz group from Moi University, concert and dance music by the Administration Police Band, awards, certificates, laughter and affection flowing over from person to person, from police officer to civilian, from instructor to student. I knew that I would miss these wonderful people. I felt close to many of them, especially the women, and although I had been there for three weeks, the end of my time there seemed to pop up, almost taking me by surprise. I had been so busy preparing and teaching that I never noticed that the days were flying past.

You know how you just know because you know? Sunday morning, December 2, 2012, a very strange thing happened. I woke KNOWING I would be back to Kenya and furthermore, that I would be staying for a long time. I just knew it, deep inside. But, why? What would I be doing? The thought was overwhelming to me.

After a conversation with Dr. Mellitus Wanyama, my Kenyan teaching colleague and now, a MUZIKI Board Member and a long phone call to Reuben Kigame, well-known Gospel singer and Kenyan radio personality, it was clear to all three of us that this idea to return for an extended period of time needed much time and contemplation.

Submitted by Jean MacLeod, MUZIKI Founder/Director