What the Aussies say
Below are just a few testimonials by Aussies who have been to Africa with KwaYa. When asked for only one to two paragraphs they all replied "impossible".
Coolum Beach *****
Thank you Marsha for the opportunity not once but twice to share the Ugandan experience with your tours. After Yvonne showed us your plans for the inaugural tour in 2011 my initial thoughts on going along were not overly enthusiast, as a non-singer / non-dancer participant. However, this was soon allayed once we arrived with the wide range of jobs, we were able engage in. Between videoing, fence building, painting, making outdoor swing sets, helping with concert set ups and pack downs, your non singer programme kept us as busy as a one-armed paper hanger.
Both journeys have been a, (at times challenging), humbling and richly rewarding experience Yvonne, Hollie and I reflect on often. And as amazing as the Ugandan countryside and wildlife is for the extra side trips you organised, it’s the African Children's Choir community on the ground that made us feel so welcome and special. It didn’t take long after arriving to see it was indeed, they who are the special ones.
Footnote: Should be noted these were not 5 star “carry your bags tours”, but immersive, hands on, everyone mucks in experiences, with a view into a country and people probably not seen often by traditional western tours.
5 out of 5 and thanks again for inviting us along.
Melbourne VIC *****
I went to Uganda with KwaYa twice. The two trips were quite different. The second time was more of the real deal. Surrounded by likeminded people, focused on doing our tiny bit to make a difference. A unique opportunity to see and experience first hand, if only for a very short two weeks how incredibly those with so little appreciate the gift of life. How family unit's work together and how it truly does take a village.
I am so grateful for this opportunity. Being slapped in the face with how truly lucky we are in Australia and realising how little I understood that privilege has changed me forever. I now know how insignificant 'possessions' are. I try to live minimally; I try to teach my family that it is not what you have beyond the basics, but who you have in your life. My relationships with family and friends are appreciated so much more.
My need to seek out opportunities to serve others has become a priority.
The added bonus of singing with the African CC was the cream on the cake. Filling our hearts with the joy of music, practicing in a non-threatening fun filled environment was great. A truly awesome once in a life time experience.
Forever grateful 🙏.
I rate the experience a 5 plus stars.
Sunshine Coast *****
Africa, Music, Small group travel, Volunteering – KwaYa seemed to tick a lot of the boxes for me. So off I went to Uganda in 2017 with KwaYa #6 and again in 2019 with KwaYa #7 to sing and work alongside the young adults of the African Childrens Choir.
Indeed, it was a privilege to be given this opportunity. Thankyou Marsha Gusti, the President and founder of KwaYa, who has been instrumental in creating a space for singers and adventurers to come together and share music since 2011. The joy and love shared between us the visitors, and the Ugandans and Kenyans is hard to explain.
We were humbled by the people in the slum townships and poor schools who were thankful for any help we were able to give. We received far more than we gave.
At the ACC Academy we shared further experiences with the children there who were always smiling and always appreciative. Singing with these beautiful African people in their churches was indeed a highlight, sharing meals, playing games, laughing, crying, caring, singing and dancing…...it was one BIG bundle of JOY wrapped up and titled “KwaYa”.
Would I go again? Yes, in less than a heartbeat it would take to decide.
Do you want your life changed? Are you prepared to really see what life is like for the under-privileged children and families of eastern sub-Saharan Africa? Are you ready to be embraced enthusiastically and generously welcomed as an honoured friend? Then join a KwaYa trip like the one I took to Uganda in 2017. What a privilege to work with school children at both slum schools, where a never-to-be forgotten slogan painted on the rough wall read, “Education is my only treasure” and at the African Children’s Choir Schools where children lucky enough to be selected for this group benefit from a high standard of education and wonderful preparation for leadership in their adult lives.
As a choir music director, the opportunity to learn more about the unique way Africans sing by singing with them over two weeks just blew me away.
Don’t expect luxury or five-star meals but do expect experiences only possible when you share the lives of the local people and come back changed for the better (and more than a little disgusted with our waste and sense of entitlement.)
RATED 5 out of 5 for anyone who wants to experience reality and help make the world a better place.
Mornington Peninsula VIC *****
I have been to Uganda 3 times with Kwaya Australia. It was a life changing experience for me . I was in my late 70s and had the best time of my life!
To be part of a choir and perform with the African Children’s choir in amazing venues was very inspiring!
The trip was packed with with new experiences; workshops in schools in the slums, visiting homes , going to markets eating different food . It was so rewarding in so many ways!
My rating for the tours is 5 out of 5.
Perth WA *****
Before my first tour to Uganda 10 years ago, I classed myself as a well-travelled person. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to have an experience so completely different, so enriching and absolutely life changing. I was blown away.
It is an immersive experience and one I am so grateful for. There is no comparison to anything I had done before – I needed to throw away any expectations of what a normal organised tour looked like and began my journey of a lifetime. It’s the beautiful people we met while working with the kids in the schools; the young adults we sang and performed with; the amazing workers at the African Childrens Choir and Music for Life programs.
My heart was overflowing having received far more than I could ever give. I came home a changed person with a different set of values. I no longer hanker for possessions but work on being grateful every day for the small things. I will be embarking on my fourth tour to Uganda next year - I would say that’s a pretty good recommendation – just can’t stay away!
Perth WA *****
Once you travel in Africa and are immersed in the community and culture you come home a different person. These are incredibly humble people with a different set of values and life perspectives to us from so called “1st world nations” We can learn so much. Having travelled twice with Kwaya groups I have built swing sets and new toilets for schools, played ball games with kids with a much better skill set than me, explored the streets of the slum areas (surrounded by kids calling Muzungu – white man) and visited areas not normally accessible to tourists – amazing. The most cherished memory is singing with the graduates from the African Childrens Choir – UNI students. These guys have amazingly rich deep voices and they welcomed me like a brother. As a jazz musician I am an average singer but these guys inspired me to rise to the occasion. As I said a life changing experience.
Karen and Lisa Cunningham
Vincentia NSW *****
We were fortunate enough to travel as a mother and daughter duo with Kwaya #6 in 2017 to Uganda. We hoped to experience first hand the valuable work Kwaya Australia was doing to support the African Children’s Choir students and their families. The tour was extremely well facilitated and provided a real insight into the everyday lives of the kids who did and didn’t attend school in the slums of Kampala and the huge differences in the schooling they received compared to the learning environment at the African Children’s Choir (ACC) school in Entebbe.
We delivered food hampers to families in the slums of Kampala, performed with the ACC at the schools and to the congregation at a few churches, facilitated and ran art workshops with the students in a slum school in and at the ACC School in Entebbe. All the children were so excited and very grateful for the donations of books, clothes and shoes and they participated wholeheartedly in each activity that was offered by our team.
It was the first time that we had visited a third world country and for both of us an emotional rollercoaster. We laughed and loved alongside the Aussies and the Africans that we met on tour and we also hugged each other tightly and shed a few tears whilst we were tucked up in our beds at night with a belly full of food.
We both changed a little after the tour, it’s hard not too. We certainly have more gratitude for the opportunities that come our way and don’t take our good fortune for granted. We also value the simplest of things much more than before like turning on a tap to get clean water!
We forged many lifelong friendships with the Ugandans and became a member of the Kwaya family. We have no hesitation in recommending Marsha’s tour to Uganda and rate this incredible experience a 5/5 for sure.
Karen and Lisa Cunningham
Coolum Beach QLD *****
Travelling to Africa to sing and volunteer with KwaYa sounded like an exciting opportunity, but little did I know what a life-changing experience it would be to participate in this fully immersive tour.
As a choir director it was an absolute honour to sing, perform and conduct alongside the children and young adults at a variety of ACC performances, bathing in their magnificent harmonies.
As a Zumba instructor it was sheer bliss dancing for hours in our workshops soaking up their pure sense of joy in movement and rhythm.
But it was meeting all the beautiful people along the way, who embraced us with open arms, sharing so much of their community and culture, and teaching us so much through their values and perspectives that made the experience so richly rewarding.
Whether it was working in the slum schools of Kampala or delivering food hampers to families in the area, we were always so humbled by how appreciative they were of what we had to offer, and we received far more than we ever gave.
I had the privilege of taking part in three tours and not only was my heart more full from each visit but I also came back with a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be grateful for the simple things in life.
Thank you so much for providing us with this wonderful opportunity Marsha. I would highly recommend the tour to anyone and rate it 5 out of 5 plus stars.
"If your soul had a
bucket list, this trip would fill it."
My unexpected trip to Uganda came about after meeting Marsha and the African children's choir during their tour in Australia. The moment I experienced their mesmerizing music, dance, and heard the story of the ACC, I was completely captivated. That very night, Marsha invited me to join them in Uganda, and it turned out to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
As a builder, I was eager to get involved in construction projects, and I was fortunate to be paired up with a local team to work on building an outdoor play area. The ingenuity and resourcefulness of the locals as we tackled this project were absolutely amazing. It felt like I was transported back to my early days as an apprentice, learning new skills and techniques from their expert craftsmanship.
The drumming and singing workshops were simply mind-blowing. They took me on a rhythmic journey that I never expected. I gained a whole new understanding and appreciation for the power of rhythm. It was an experience that left me feeling energized and inspired.
But what truly left a lasting impact on me was the warm and welcoming nature of the Ugandan people. Their smiles and genuine hospitality made me feel at home and reminded me of the power of a simple gesture. Each encounter with the locals deepened my appreciation for the beauty of human connection and the joy that can be found in even the smallest moments.
My trip to Uganda, sparked by the chance meeting with Marsha and the African children's choir, was an incredible and laid-back adventure. It opened my eyes to new cultures, taught me valuable life lessons, and created memories that will stay with me forever.
Blue Mountains *****
My first taste of Uganda came in 2014, when my local community was privileged to host young people from the African Children’s Choir (Choir 42), on tour with KwaYa Australia. They entered our homes and our hearts, and they delighted us with their music, dance, joy for life and big hearts. From there, two more tour groups of outstanding young people visited us here in the Blue Mountains, and made a lasting impact on our local community.
So, in 2019, I grabbed the opportunity to visit Uganda with Kwaya Australia with both hands. Having glimpsed the amazing work done by Music for Life from afar, I was thirsty to learn more and to see first hand the impact these people have on their own community. When I visited, I encountered love in action, compassion, an infectious joy and gratitude, and hope in the most surprising places. I went to learn, and was taught through lived experience. I went to offer love, and was shown love in return far greater than I could have expected or imagined. My two weeks in Uganda were truly wonderful, and truly memorable. I rejoiced and I wept. I danced and sang, laughed and cried with my new friends. I have thought about this amazing time often, and with great fondness ever since returning back home. I have missed the wonderful people I met - Aussies and Africans alike - especially in the years of Covid and lockdowns since then.
I fully hope to return to Africa in the future; to reunite with old friends, to meet new souls, and experience the thrill of sharing in the journey that Kwaya Australia and Music for Life offers. I encourage you to try it for yourself. Whether you are musical or not, you have something to offer on this wonderful adventure with Kwaya Australia. And you have so much to gain.
Sunshine Coast *****
I have been very lucky to go to Uganda twice with Kwaya Australia. Although I have been to four other so called “third world countries”, my Ugandan experiences have changed my whole outlook on life.
Wherever I went in Uganda:
walking through unbelievable conditions of the Kampala slums watching families trying to raise their kids
observing Ugandans in overcrowded, bustling, markets, competing with so many others, trying to make enough money to provide one more meal
looking into the huge big brown eyes of four year old kids trying to grasp every bit of education they can, in delipidated overcrowded, run down schools
watching a family of five all clinging onto a motorbike, proud that they had this mode of transport
listening to magnificent gospel singing of families, actually giving thanks
I was overwhelmed, amazed and inspired by their grace, positive attitudes, humility and seemingly "unsmashable“ resilience!
The African Childrens Choir’s motto of
“Helping the most vulnerable today, so they can help Africa tomorrow” really says it all.
Both KwaYa Australia and the ACC have given many kids opportunities they would never have dreamed of.
I encourage you to go see for yourself. You will be so glad you did.
I am! Thanks a million Marsha!