First established in 2010, the S’Cool Sounds project in Kenya is now in residence in four schools in Kibera: FAFU (Facing the Future School), Mobjap School, The Shining Hope School, and Slumcare. One of the most notoriously desperate slums in all of Africa, Kibera is home to over one million people in one square mile; more than half of the those residents are children under the age of twelve. Artistic Director Nina Stern partners with the NY-based Crossing Thresholds to work with school children and train local staff members so that they can continue teaching music throughout the year. Programming is centered at FAFU (Facing the Future School) under the leadership of its Principal and Founder, Simeon Ajigo. Under the enthusiastic guidance of FAFU’s music teacher Jacob Saya, SCS students in Kibera have gone from experiencing instrumental music for the first time to winning first prize in the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Kenyan National Music Competitions.
Before trips, SCS public-school children in NYC prepare videotaped performances for their Kenyan counterparts. The children exchange letters, telling each other about their families, their homes, and how they spend their days. Similarities outshine differences – as one AmPark Neighborhood School student eloquently put it: “We play the same song.” Both groups often collaborate on the composition of a new piece, such as “The Rhythms of Kibera,” which was premiered in 2011.
“Food and clothing are clearly essential items that the children need, but they need more than that. They need to have their spirits fed, they need to be able to express their emotions in a way that is absolutely freeing, and music can do that for them.”
- Nina Stern, Artistic Director