Nairobi Girls Chorale from Kenya visit Chicago to support their dreams using music as a tool

By Hannah Gebresilassie

“I call it the trip of God,” says David A. Isindu, founder and director of Nairobi Girls Chorale.

A group of 17 girls from Nairobi, Kenya visit Chicago to challenge stereotypes, gain exposure and raise tuition money. Isindu founded the Nairobi Girls Chorale in 2008 to empower young women in Africa.

“I am the product of the same kindness,” says Isindu. “Somebody somewhere extended the same kindness to me, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

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In this video, the Nairobi Girls Chorale founder and members speak about their mission. (Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)

The 17 girls are staying in three apartments in Rogers Park. Volunteers from the Chicago Kenyan community are housing the girls, including Endita Kiarie, founder of Kenyan Women Support Group — Chicago.

“I was once their age going to school in Africa,” Kiarie says. “Why not give back to girls that remind me of myself when I was growing up?”

Organizers say the biggest challenge is funding the trip. Half the expenses were paid for on credit by the director. The girls sell CDs and handmade jewelry and accept donations to help offset costs.

“Unfortunately, many people in Africa are not ready to invest in programs for the youth,” says Isindu, adding he will commit his salary toward the balance of the trip.

The visit falls on the week of the celebration of Madaraka Day, commemorating Kenya attaining self-rule in 1963. Nairobi Girls Chorale will be performing around Chicago during the first week of June to raise money for tuition and support their efforts. In the future, Isindu hopes to expand.

“We want to start a mega talent academy in Nairobi that will take care of music, culture, soccer, dance, anything that will help the Kenyan children,” Isindu says.

Photo at top: The Nairobi Girls Chorale perform at Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant. (Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)