Kenya Story in a nutshell

The smell of burning trash, the appreciation for the taste of rice & beans and Ugali (traditional African meal), a mind-blowing safari, hand made jewelry, the constant reminder of the simple things in life, the realization that most problems in my life are small(first world problems), the craziness of the bumper to passenger side door traffic mostly caused by the Matatu's (8-16 person taxis), the comforting feeling that it's cool to be a little late. NO WORRIES. All these are just touching the surface. 
The decision to go to Africa seemed crazy to me at first, but was the most amazing experience. I signed up to teach music through an organization called IVHQ (International Volunteer Headquarters). My girlfriend Danielle Rawls was the catalyst behind this as she wanted to volunteer with HIV/Aids to follow up her Masters program in Social Work at New York University. She was placed at the Light Of Life center. It was literally a shack where they would hold meetings if they weren’t doing home visits.  Though at first I felt intimidated, that quickly subsided as I realized how welcoming everyone were towards us. Most everyone one spoke english though their initial language is Swahili. We were fortunate enough to be placed at a home stay within the slums with a family that actually had a running water and electricity.   
For 2 weeks, I taught music at The Grace Care School and Orphanage of about 200 children where 70 of them were orphans there. To see the way some of these children lived was absolutely heartbreaking. Then to turn around and see the life within them light up as we shared music and dance together was extremely lifting. These children are smart. They are full of energy and rhythm. They are very respectful and grateful toward education and music. To spend a few weeks wasn't nearly enough time, but to share the culture helped me to realize different aspects of life. The passion and pureness in music. The struggle to find a meal. The struggle to find the will to press on. They don't worry about petty things because the petty things seem to barely exist. 
Each music class started up with the children singing me a welcome song. Yes, a welcome song. As weird as it seems, it was heart warming and comforting. I opened each class explaining that I was a music teacher from around the world. Talking about how we can communicate and exchange energy through music even if we don't speak the same language. I quickly figured out what these children had already learned and were accustomed to musically. We soon began to sing Bob Marley and work with a few songs I wrote. I even slipped in my children's twist on Van Halen's “Ice Cream Man”. I was fortunate enough to team up with another volunteer/dance instructor from Australia, Jesse Morgan. She was just as floored how fast these children were picking up the moves and how excited they were to learn new music and dance. These children don't typically have a program like this. It's extremely refreshing to see how much you can lift a spirit.  
“Don't Kiss the Mamba”
As Danielle and I arrived to Nairobi, we had a day to explore before we met up with our host family and started our volunteer work, so we visited a Giraffe Center and the Mamba Farm. Mamba is an African word for a crocodile. It was there that we were able to hold a baby crocodile and there where Danielle said, “awww, I wanna kiss him”. Our guide quickly took her seriously and said, “no ma'am, no kiss the mamba”. Making a mental note, a day later I was working on a few ideas for a song when Danielle wrote on my notebook, “kiss the mamba”. It clicked that I needed a children's style song and that was perfect. I equipt it with dance moves and all. 
“Waddle waddle waddle waddle, chomp chomp chomp chomp”...  click here to see video clip
“African Sun”
 It's easy to see the poverty and sadness everywhere, but it takes digging a little deeper to find the true beauty that lies within. To feel the tribal beats, the booming reggae, African melody and rhythm is unmistakable. I had ideas in my head for a song with an African feel, but I really wanted to feel and experience the culture to actually bring it to life. We went on a 2 day outreach where we visited a few different slums. KCC Slum, a displacement camp where mostly woman and children were rebuilding there lives after the fallout of their civil war. We also visited a trash slum where over 600 families actually live among the mountains of trash that it dumped from the surrounding towns and cities. This was absolutely flooring in a frightening way. We visited the slums to actually hand out flour and lard so they can make Ugali. The common traditional African dish that a family can stretch. These people actually search through the mounds of trash amongst vultures, goats and other living things trying to survive. Heartbreaking. I found some of my sadder inspiration there and learned to balance it with a more positive side. “From the rich to the poor, let your feet touch the floor, survive”...
African Sun is a mix of emotions toward helping one another and living together. Using the everyday essentials to the max and learning to survive. It's extremely uplifting to come to the realization that there is more here than what we're seeing. 

http://www.volunteerhq.org/http://kccslumproject.wordpress.com/shapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1
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