"Freedom from Within"
Kenya, Africa

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." - Author Unknown

It's truly been an honor and a wonderful experience at that, to travel internationally within these past two years. It has given me an opportunity to see the world in a different light. Be it in the light economically, socially, politically, environmentally and personally. It has been a blessing....and I have taken it all in, humbly.
As a Recording Artist and Advocate against Domestic Abuse and Violence, my music has given me the ability to spread my wings, fly and share with many, the beautiful culture and songs of the Dine'(Navajo), abroad. But most importantly, connect with our relatives in the world.

I have traveled to the Netherlands, South America, Russia and Germany. But none like the beautiful Motherland- Kenya, Africa. When I was asked to travel to Kenya through the Harbor Charitable Foundation my heart nearly jumped out of my body. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, the Motherland!" This trip could not have come a better time in my life as I have always felt a void (culturally) on my African side here in America. I always knew that there was more to our culture as African Americans than what we have settled for here in the states. And this was soon to be revealed in this trip to the Motherland.

My trip to Kenya, Africa filled that void when I met the many beautiful Africans and listened to their languages, songs, stories; admired their traditional attires, dances; ate the traditional foods, and observed the lifestyles while I healed with the communities. I found more similarities to the Navajo culture than differences. Our relatives in Kenya are people of the land. They have cornfields (my favorite traditional food was made out of maze is called Ugali- yummy!!!!), mud homes like hogan's, they make frybread which is slightly sweeter than ours in the U.S. (they call it "Mondazi"), rely on the sheep, goats and cattle for food (and the animals roam freely as ours do on Navajoland), and are proud people who are full of life despite their conditions and circumstances.

A large percentage of the population is impacted by the AIDS pandemic and I had the opportunity of meeting those who were HIV positive or had AIDS, including children. I remember the day I went to the County Clinic to get the various shots prior to my trip to Kenya. I sat in the office as I listened to the prices of what each shot would cost ($25- $230) for Malaria, Hepatitis A & B, Meningitis, Measles, Mumps and Rubella, Tdap, Typhoid to name a few. I remember feeling sick to my stomach as I thought of the people who" truly" suffered at the hands of such diseases while others profited off the inhumanity that stemmed from this. This was very disturbing for me.

Our first day in Kisumu, Kenya we visited the Pandipieri School, where we were greeted by Sister Bernadette who introduced us to all of her colleagues. The school of Pandipieri (one of the many projects of Harbor Charitable Foundation) is a formal and informal school where their projects are geared towards 3 areas: Street Children, Community Health and Education. A skit was presented to John, Leontine and I (the group that I traveled with through the Harbor Charitable Foundation) by children of Pandipieri about AIDS. The two leaders of the class spoke with much power, belief, strength and courage as we broke down in tears. What admiration one could only have for these children as they are now a part of a generation of change, hope and empowerment! I am very proud to say that one of the leaders will be featured on my upcoming album as a soloist as well as 15 other youth participants of the Pandipieri School. We also visited with the street children that were victims of parents who were killed in the political violence in January, 2008, the AIDS pandemic or runaways from unstable home environments. The street youths were encouraged to go to the Pandipari School for refuge and schooling.
Another Organization that we visited was the Safe Water and Aids Project (SWAP) where Alie, the Director of SWAP, gave us a tour of the facilities and educated us on their objectives, health, emergency response services, research and the children groups' supports. This non-governmental organization aims to improve the health and socio-economic status of Kenyan people through disease prevention and socio-economic empowerment. We had the opportunity to travel outside of Kisumu to the forest communities to observe the various demonstrations on health care services provided through SWAP to include the transforming of contaminated water into clean water- which was amazing to me!
The New Life Home and the St. Theresa's Orphanage were also a part of our visitation in Kisumu. This was the hardest visit of them all. Children who have been put up for adoption were also victims of the political violence (due to the lost of their parents) and/ or some who had HIV/ AIDS were placed in these Orphanages. Ages ranged from 5 months to 16 years old. Witnessing the babies crawling around to the children playing so playfully and not knowing what lied ahead in their future was heartbreaking. What is important is that these precious children were receiving the love, support and encouragement that are needed to get them through their day to day. And you could see it in their eyes....they were happy and making the best of their situation.

Kagamega Education Program is another project that Harbor Charitable Foundation is involved in. This program is dedicated to preserving one of the largest rain forests and it's species in Kenya. Harbor Charitable Foundation is currently building a snake park to educate the communities about the different snakes and animals in the rain forest as some locals find them a threat. The first day, it poured like cats and dogs as we enjoyed a home cooked traditional meal prepared by the locals. Benjamin Okala took us on an early morning hike into the rainforest where we were greeted by the monkeys and their calls. I hiked to the top of a hill where I stood in the presence of divine beauty, our Mother Earth, overlooking the entire rainforest. This was a beautiful site to see and feel. It was breathtaking. We were also honored by a traditional dance that is still practiced among the traditionalists deep in the rain forest. This dance is to honor the Rain Gods and to express gratitude for such element to survive.

And last but not least, I had the privilege of meeting attorneys who dedicate their time and energy to Women's Rights. FIDA is a Federation of Women Lawyers (non-profit organization) that aims to improve the legal standing of women in Kenya through promoting gender equality, strategic and leadership programs, legal services etc...
I did presentations on domestic violence and encouraged our sisters that they too will overcome this destructive illness that plagues our world. Thank you FIDA for your hard work and dedication!
There was so much to see and experience in so little time. And to be honest with you, I was not ready to return home. There was a strong bond that was created with the people especially, the children. One can see and feel the genuine beauty in our African relatives yet feel their pain and suffering. It's unfortunate that our world is consumed by selfishness and greed and people suffer from such inhumanity. Even at the hands of ones own Government. Yet, one finds a way to survive each and everyday sharing a smile through the unpredictable, greeting "Jambo!" (Hello in Swahili) or dancing and singing about Justice, Hope and Freedom!
Everywhere I went I was asked about Obama and the elections. You could see and feel the pride the Kenyans had in their son, Obama. And to return to the Great United States of Native America was even more an honor as we celebrated our new President- Elect, Barack Obama. Yea!!!!

At the end of the day, we all share our common struggles, feel hope and desire change. It begins with self and from there it extends to the next brother or sister, all life forms and the universe. It's time to illuminate the dark parts of who we are and embrace humanity so that it flourishes in generosity and compassion. The drum represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth and it is the drum that brings us together in song and in dance. I was told that that the trip to Kenya, Africa would be a life changing experience....and it was. Let us reach out to each other even through a smile so that we become much closer.

Thank you to Harbor Charitable Foundation for all that you do to make a difference in people's lives and for making this trip possible for me. And much gratitude and blessings to my new friends of Kisumu, Kenya for opening your heart and sharing with me, the beauty in who you are as our relatives: Chris, Pandipieri School, Sister Bernadette, Alie, SWAP, Gabriel, James, Yusuf, John, Dre, George, Peter, Dottie, Ted, John, Leontine, Maria, Sr. Philomena, Benjamin Okala, Kagamega Rainforest Conservation Project (KEEP), FIDA and the Mill Hill Mission.

To the children of Pandiperi who will be featured on my upcoming cross- over album, "Thank you for sharing your beautiful voices and for breathing life into what is now, your song, "Freedom from Within!" You all hold a very special place in my heart and I love you all and miss you, dearly! Ahehee("thank you," in Navajo).

If I forgot anyone please, blame my head not my heart.
Until we meet again, because I plan on going back to Kenya soon.

Many blessings....Radmilla

Click here to view Kenya pictures

For more information on the following Organizations and how you can contribute to their cause, click on the following links below. Thank you!

FIDA Kenya Kakamega Rainforest Conservation Project (KEEP)
KUAP Pandipieri Send an email to: swap@vicweb.net