Mwika Musicians: Community, Friendship and Hope

Mwika Musicians: Community, Friendship and Hope

The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Bachelor of Social Work Program is pleased to present the Mwika Musicians for a special cultural exchange opportunity September 21-25, 2015. A delegation from Mwika, Tanzania, will travel to Maine to share their culture, traditions and music with the region, as well as to learn about the culture and music here.Mwika_Musicians

(Photo at right:¬†Pictured practicing in January 2015 are, from left: Elihuruma Msuya, Sister Grace Saule, Agness Mollel, Ng’anisen Lema, Jonas Mungure, Exaud Mfinanga, Exaudi Mwasha, Enock Mremi. Photo by Shirley Rush.)

The Project

This visit builds upon the collaborations between UMPI and Stefano Moshi Memorial University College in Mwika, Tanzania. In Fall 2013, UMPI Social Work Professor Shirley Rush completed a University of Maine System Trustees Professorship in Tanzania, teaching on the campuses of the Tanzanian institution and working to develop¬†the infrastructure and relationships needed for a reciprocal international exchange effort. So far, that has resulted in UMPI students traveling to Tanzania to complete coursework, service learning and clinical rotations. To ensure the exchange is reciprocal, Rush has been working to bring Tanzanian students to Presque Isle. That focus has led to the Mwika Musicians’ visit to Maine.

A special reception and cultural exchange event will be held on Friday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center, and will include demonstrations of traditional African music through stories, song and dance. The music is in Swahili and is arranged to reflect the group’s Christian faith.

Who are the Mwika Musicians?

facebook-find-usOne of the courses Shirley Rush taught while in Tanzania was a communications class. Twelve of the students in that class were singers and musicians. Rush asked the group to sing for her, and when they did, she said she knew she had to find a way to bring them to the U.S. She and others have been working for 18 months to plan for the visit, make arrangements, line up passports and visas, and see to the hundreds of other details to make an exchange event like this happen.

This delegation includes 12 student musicians, their chorale director, and the college principal from Stefano Moshi Memorial University College. Only two of these 14 have ever traveled off the continent of Africa, and for most, it will be their first time in an airplane and first journey to the U.S.

We Need Your Help

In order to make this visit possible, the UMPI BSW Program is seeking community support for its fundraising efforts. Funding for ground transportation to and from Boston, places to stay, and other expenses already are in place. However, community and individual donations are much needed to cover $20,000 in airfare for this group to travel to the U.S. and back.

Shirley Rush and UMPI Social Work students are working hard this summer to raise funds at various community events, so your support at these fundraisers is greatly appreciated. Please also consider making a direct donation–every gift helps to meet the $20,000 fundraising goal.

To donate, please contact Shirley Rush at 207-768-9426 or shirley.rush@maine.edu. Donations can be sent directly to UMPI, c/o Shirley Rush-Mwika Musicians, 181 Main St., Presque Isle, ME 04769.