Music plays such a big role in my everyday life. Growing up in a Muslim family, my mother never fails to remind me about how haram (forbidden) it is. I often get laughed at for wearing big ear phones over my hijab or going to concerts, but it helps me get through certain things occurring in my life. Music causes me to bring out emotions I didn’t know even existed. I often leave my iPod on shuffle, allowing for random songs to be selected and within 20 minutes, I can feel excited, sad, happy and angry. When I was getting ready to leave for Nairobi I made sure my iPod was updated with the most recent music by my favourite artists. Until now, I’ve never been to Kenya so I really had no idea what the music was like here. I expected everyone here would be listening to local Kenyan singers. My first few days here were exactly as I had predicted. The majority of the cab drivers played music I didn’t understand.
About a week into my arrival in Kenya, I started interning at Heshima. After getting the run down on how everything goes and what I would be doing there, I had the opportunity to begin interacting with the girls. After asking me my name, where I came from and if I had a boyfriend, the girls asked me if I liked music. I explained to them that “like” was an understatement. Within an hour of getting to know the girls my ideas revolving around Kenya and music were proven wrong. The girls were so up to date with the music in North America, I was quite shocked. Girls who could barely speak English, knew every single word of Justin Beiber’s songs. It put the biggest smile on my face. I knew the girls and I were going to form a great relationship over the next couple of months.
As I got to know each of the girls more and more everyday, I began to see how important music is in each of their lives. The way they brighten up when talking about their favourite song, or the way they start to blush when talking about how cute they think Chris Brown is. It’s crazy to see how people use and interpret music in different ways. Personally, I use music to help me study, get me through a workout at the gym, or to help me fall asleep. The girls at Heshima Kenya seem to use it for something totally different. They spend the majority of the day within their circle of friends; whether they are in the classroom, doing tailoring, or having lunch. But I have noticed that when talking or listening to music, the girls all come together. It really is such an unbelievable thing to see a group of girls, from different countries, who speak different dialects, and have different problems, connect through the power of music!
Along with the ability to create friendships, I feel like music truly helps the girls who are going through a complicated time in their lives. By turning up the volume on the CD player and dancing with their friends, I sense the girls use music to escape their struggles and dilemmas. It helps reduce their stress levels by allowing them to forget their problems and just have fun. It creates unity amongst the girls, bringing them together, and making them feel like they all belong. I always knew music was something potent, but the girls really prove how powerful a device music can really be!