Voices for Change
Inaara Gangji, a second-year Diploma Programme student at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa, shares her experience of joining the Academy’s award-winning choir, Voices for Change. The choir is making a difference not only through their music but also through their social service work in the community.
When one joins a choir, one expects to get a bit of voice training, sing at school events and write a good CAS (creativity, activity, service) reflection. However, the Voices for Change is unique in the sense that it is more than a choir; it is a family, a group of close knit individuals who are determined to use music to make the world a better place. In this one year, I have forged lifelong relationships with extraordinary individuals, whether it be our exemplary Choir Director, Mr Philip Mbinji or my gifted counterparts whom I sing beside.
According to Mr Philip, the choir had humble beginnings, starting small and eventually forging its capacity into an unstoppable force. Although in the past there were issues with the gender gap in the group, over time it showed its ability not only as a music group but also as a platform to grow. Male membership has now grown to expand the bass voice, with younger ones also joining soprano.
What I found really fascinating was the amount of time and effort Mr Philip puts into the Voices for Change. It is as though he has no other commitments, with him staying till late evenings, foregoing meetings and using lunch hours and weekends to polish our pieces. They say everything is a two-way process: you get what you put in, and his work has really helped the group reach milestones, especially with the recent accolades our school received at the Kenya Music Festival.
This year, we ventured out as a group on a new project: to cultivate a reading culture in one of the most impoverished areas of Mombasa: Bangladesh Slum. We initially heard about the schools in the slum and the works of Christian missionaries in the area through our school nurse, who was a former employee at the hospital they run. We then decided to gear all the donations we make from our concerts, such as the one at City Mall and our annual Christmas tree lighting, towards making the festive season joyous for them.
All I can say is that joining the Voices for Change was a journey and still is, at least for a few more months until I graduate from the Academy. What this journey has taught me is selflessness: It’s about giving your all and only then expecting results; it’s about seeking inspiration from those around you, and most importantly, connecting with people you thought you would never have anything in common with. I see a bright future for the group.
By Inaara Gangji, Diploma Programme 2, Aga Khan Academy Mombasa