Mtaala means "Learning"
A few years ago I traveled to Kigo, Uganda to visit the students at Awegys School. I had received a generous Endowed Teaching Grant from my college and wanted to explore arts education with a body of remarkable young students who had endured great hardship. Most had lost their parents through disease or war. In many other countries, such as Uganda, school is not free and parents must find a way to pay for their children's education. These students, in dire economic straights, depended upon the generous donations of sponsors through the remarkable Mtaala Foundation (www.mtaala.org).
I spent one month working with the students, developing an original musical based upon their life experiences and the miracle of their salvation through the foundation. It was a beautiful, moving experience and I do believe the students taught me as much as I taught them. Together with my daughter, a scenic designer and architecture student, we taught the students (mostly teenagers) how to write, direct, stage manage, costume design, properties design and compose music for their original work. The play was titled "Journey to Mtaala" and we played to a standing room only crowd. I'll never forget that experience and the way the work empowered these remarkable young men and women.
I am happy to report that I am currently on Sabbatical leave and am organizing my notes in order to write a new work about the incredible experience I had on that journey. I'll keep you all posted on my progress, but I'm thrilled to know I can devote all of my time to this exciting artistic pursuit! May you all have your own exciting journey learning new and remarkable stories that give perspective and gratitude for the many blessings we all enjoy.