Brooke Hill | Staff Writer
Kenya believe what the men’s choir did this summer?
In May, a team of 75 members from the Baylor Men’s Choir journeyed to Kenya on a mission trip in hopes of uplifting people through the gift of music, while also serving the communities.
A video of the group singing the song “Da Coconut” was posted to the Emirates Airlines’ Twitter account and has since gone viral. News outlets around the world have posted the video and published stories, including People Magazine.
During their two week visit, from May 14-29, the group traveled to a variety of villages in Kenya, including Nairobi, Masaii, Komolion, Marigat, Pokot, Secenanri and Kajiado. In addition to serving, the men were able to make memories by enjoying the Masaii Mara Safari and taking pictures at the equator.
“Our work with the Pokot Village of Komolion as the ‘change the world in a day’ project allowed us to have the resources to make a significant impact on the most recent visit,” said Dr. Randall Bradley, Baylor Men’s Choir director.
The group kept a blog while they were abroad that was updated with a new post and multiple pictures every day. The blog team consisted of four members, with 15 contributing authors, so a diverse set of perspectives and experiences were shared.
“I decided to go on this trip because I knew that something as big as this trip with this many people would never happen again and I wanted to be a part of something unique,” said Austin sophomore Lucas McWhirter.
Since 2007, students who have traveled to Kenya with music teams have sponsored girls so that they are able to go to school to escape female genital mutilation or female circumcision, a consistent problem in this region of Africa. On this trip, students met the girls they have been sponsoring.
“The money that we give fully supports a girl to go to boarding school where she is able to continue her education without the threat of [female genital mutilation],” Bradley said.
Choir members served in various capacities during their Kenyan visit, but among the trip’s highlights was the group’s service at a Komolion village.
The group held a medical clinic that served over 400 people, helped create a community garden, contributed toward financial security by providing hens and bee hives for families, fit each child with a pair of new shoes, painted their school and rebuilt some walls in their school that had been destroyed by termites.
“We did all of this in addition to singing and dancing with the people. We also outfitted each child with pairs of new underwear, and we gave everyone T-shirts donated by Baylor students,” Bradley said.
Students enjoyed working and playing with the children in the village.
“The most fun memory I had on the trip was when we were painting the walls of a school we visited and everyone was singing Disney songs, which made the work go much faster,” McWhirter said.
The most meaningful moment of the trip for Eden Prairie, Minn., senior Zach Schaser, the president of the group, occurred while working and serving in the Pokot Village.
“I got to see God work through me even in the midst of my discomfort and bring people from across the world together with music,” Schaser said. “It was a powerful moment for me, and one that continues to leave me humbled and inspired by what is possible when we trust God to work in us.”
The choir members used their different strengths in order to serve the community in a variety of ways.
“Some pre-med students were working with our doctor on a medical clinic, some engineering majors were constructing room dividers and wooden stands for a hand-washing station, other choir guys were painting, and others were working with a water pump and clearing a garden,” Schaser said.
Another fun moment for the group was getting to spend the night in the Masaii Mara Safari.
“I was in awe at the open expanse of the Africa plains, the patterns of distant trees and clouds on the horizon and the vibrant colors that blossomed across my entire field of vision,” Schaser said.
In addition to appearing on a local television morning show, Bradley said the group was interviewed by a top-rated talk show host in Manilla and Skyped with the Philippine writer of the song.
The men’s choir has a history of going abroad every four years, so if a student stays in the group for four years, he is able to make one international trip. The Men’s Choir has been to Kenya in 2005, to Argentina in 2009, back to Kenya in 2013 and again this summer of 2017.