“Music breaks down barriers,” says Becky Alwin, a staff member with Keynote, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. “Whether it is a prison or in a slum, music forms a connection and walls come down.”
Becky and her husband, Zak, have watched music work its charm on audiences all over the world, including at a small school outside of Nairobi, Kenya.
The school, Soweto Academy, is located in Kibera slum, the second largest urban slum in Africa. A short walk down Kibera’s red dirt path reveals a great need for sanitation, electricity, running water and hope.
Since 2007, Campus Crusade has sent numerous teams to partner with the school. Some teams brought shoes and other donations for all the children, put up basketball hoops and even built a bathroom for the school.
Other groups help encourage students in their spiritual growth through VBS classes and offer health awareness or education about HIV prevention. Zak and Becky brought with them the gift of song.
Putting his musical skills to work for the benefit of the school, Zak performed for the 400 students at an assembly the first day.
The students erupted with excitement. In an effort to help the students learn how to channel their thoughts and feelings into words, Zak asked if they would help him write a song.
“We wanted to write a song about God’s goodness with the children,” explains Becky. Whether their song would be a lament or a song of praise, Becky didn’t know.
“I wrestled with the idea,” she remembers, “I thought, how will they answer how God is good?”
The kids surprised her. Within just a few minutes the students offered a dozen ways God has been good to them. Over the course of the week, Zak worked with the students to write the lyrics. Becky woke up one morning with the chorus in her head.
Eventually the song entitled, “You Are” was completed and is now available through their website. Proceeds from sale of this song help fund Soweto Academy.
The demand for the school’s assistance is beyond its capacity. Thankfully the partnership between Campus Crusade and the school has eased the load on Principal Johnstone Makabwa’s shoulders.
“CCC has been of great support to the Soweto Academy Centre,” he says, “This has helped much in developing slum children into meaningful members of the society through teaching them Christian values, counseling and spiritual guidance.”
These positive, faith-filled messages are not found in the surrounding community. Outside the schools walls, many people feel that, “nothing good comes from Kibera.”
Campus Crusade, Principal Johnstone and his team are working together to prove that wrong.
In recent years, several students have graduated from Soweto Academy and gone on to attend university and middle class colleges.
“At Soweto Academy our mission is to develop slum children into transformational leaders by preparing them for challenging social roles,” says Principal Johnstone.
Zak and Becky are pleased to come alongside of Principal Johnstone helping to give the community something to sing about.