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Music lovers walk across Michigan to raise funds to bring drumming ensemble from Ghana to GR

WAMCA walks 220 miles from shore to shore to raise money and awareness of worldwide education issues.
Underwriting support from:

To participate in the fundraising efforts

  • Interested community members are invited to walk all or part of the route with the WAMCA team
  • A pig roast is planned for May 19 in Grand Haven
  • Local African-inspired drum bands Badenya Drumming Ensemble and WaZoBia will be playing a benefit concert at the end of May.

For more information regarding WAMCA or Korye, contact Sean Mackey at [email protected] or (616) 502-0629

Did you have to walk to school as a child? Maybe. Did you have to walk 12 miles every day to get to school? Probably not. For children around the world, walking 12 miles is not uncommon. Many children are unable to attend school due to the distance to the nearest school building.

Beginning on May 2, four West Michiganders will walk 220 miles in eight days, the distance that the average Ghanaian child walks every 18 days to get to and from school. As a part of Walk Across Michigan to Raise Money for Community Art (WAMCA), Sean Mackey, Uma Mishra, Mike Tidball and Meg Collins will walk an average of 25-30 miles each day to raise $5,000 to help bring arts troupe Korye Dance Theatre from Ghana to Grand Rapids. The walkers will travel on well-developed roads near local highways from Port Huron through Grand Rapids to Grand Haven. They will be staying with sponsors at their homes or in hotels along the way. WAMCA wants to raise $5,000 to go toward bringing Korye Dance Theatre to West Michigan this fall.

Korye Dance Theatre is a culture-based group in Cape Coast, Ghana, whose mission is to promote intercultural understanding and raise awareness of Ghana's development issues using the traditional arts of African drumming and dancing. Several of its board members are based in the U.S., including Grand Valley State University professor Amy Masko and local drummer Sean Mackey, who drummed with Korye in Ghana.

"I love the music, I love the fellowship that music opens up between people," Mackey said.

In all, Korye is fundraising $35,000 to travel to Michigan this fall. They will provide workshops and concerts at regional venues. Half of the funds raised by Korye while they are in Michigan will go toward building a school in a village near Cape Coast, Ghana so children can attend a nearby school; the closest village school is more than six miles away. The other half will stay within the greater Grand Rapids community for organizations that benefit underserved kids and families.

They will also be consulting on an ArtPrize 2011 collaborative entry along with the Fat Chix Coffee Cantina of Grand Haven. Titled "Korye: United," the cultural group will perform daily as part of the project.

Although the main goals of WAMCA are to raise money and awareness, Mishra expects the walk also to be a personal journey, stating that after a few days, she expects to transcend the pain and exhaustion that comes with the distance.

The reasons why the walkers are involved are varied. Mishra is a drummer and local student involved with education in Africa and India while Collins, who just completed a Graduate Teaching Certificate program, values education highly. Tidball is a runner and is attracted to the physical challenge, but his primary reason is to try and make a difference. All of the walkers have a love of music and the community it creates, and all of them believe in promoting education on an international level.

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