A life long dream became a reality for me with my journey to Africa. And what better way to experience Sudan than to also share my passion for music.
I delivered a music camp to the young children. The first day I arrived in the church to teach I was greeted with many eager faces. I worked with Gabriel, a young man who teaches the children music. Gabriel is planning on becoming a priest. I first saw Gabriel the day we arrived and were greeted by a children’s choir led by Gabriel. Watching him work with the children made me all the more eager and excited about my time with them.
Over the course of the music camp I taught the children several songs. The songs I chose were songs primarily for the younger children. I was quite taken by the fact that many of the other boys in their teens were there singing right along with the young ones. I would sing it repeatedly until they had heard it enough to try it themselves. It didn’t take them long.
One of their favourite songs was The More We Get Together…..the more we get together, together, together; the more we get together the happier we’ll be; 'cause your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends; the more we get together the happier we’ll be.
The words are simply, the melody is simple but the meaning is strong. The more we get together the happier we’ll be. Cause your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends.
Imagine if in this world it was that simple. It should be.
The people of Sudan have been through much hardship and continue with their struggles. It was my wish that the music I shared with them would bring smiles to their faces and fill their hearts with memories and fun and laughter.
My African journey has left me with many profound memories. But the one that has embedded itself deep in my heart is that of the children. They are our future.
Please member that the more we get together the happier all of us will be.
Kids astound London diva on her journey 'home'
Sun Media, March 10, 2007
The first sounds Passion for Sudan member Denise Pelley hears on the mission grounds are children singing.
A parade of boys and girls marches up to a group of visiting Londoners when they arrive and welcomes them with songs and dances.
Pelley knows in that moment she has come home in more ways than one.
For years she had hoped to come to Africa, home of her ancestors. Her apartment is filled with African art and artifacts.
For years, too, she has carved out a living as a jazz and blues singer.
"Music is a big part of who the Sudanese are," she notes.
And the Londoners, it turns out.
Pelley leads the Londoners in an emotional version of Amazing Grace at church on Sunday, the third day of the trip.
"I didn't realize everybody from London was crying until I heard someone sobbing, then I really had to concentrate on the song," she recalls.
In the same church for three mornings from Monday to Wednesday, Pelley teaches a couple of dozen children a few simple songs in English.
She is astounded at how quickly the children pick up melody and can change pitch. She loves how the children add an African touch and sway to each song.
"They sound like they mean what they are saying," she says after one session. "I think they can look past lyrics and see into the sound."
By week's end, children walking the paths around the mission can be heard singing the words Pelley has taught.
On the last full day, Gabriel, the young man who teaches the mission children music, leads a group of children to a ceremony honouring the completion of a public school started by several London firefighters last year.
The children incorporate the Macarena and Chicken Dance steps taught them by former theatre director Kim Spriet.
Pelley leads them in song. She has chosen one song in particular for the simple lyrics that sum up her mission in Sudan.
"The more we get together, together, together . . . the happier we'll be."
Randy Richmond is a London Free Press reporter.