Recent alum teaches ‘magic’ of music in Africa

Courtesy Photo /
David Jagush, a GVSU Alumnus, has started a music program in Kenya

Courtesy Photo / David Jagush, a GVSU Alumnus, has started a music program in Kenya

Haley Otman

He grew up in Hartland, Mich., and had a pretty normal upbringing in a pretty normal Midwestern state.

But after his December 2009 graduation from Grand Valley State University, David Jagusch turned everything he had known upside down when he moved to Kibera, Kenya to embark on the next chapter of his life.

Jagusch graduated from GVSU early and with honors, but instead of using those resume-boosters to land a high-paying job, he packed up his world and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to a village of slums and poverty. He knew he wanted to help the people in suffering, so he landed in Kibera with a plan to help the village while he taught fourth through eighth grades at Olympic Primary School.

Jagusch taught a trimester in Kibera and also participated in parts of a cross-cultural volunteer program.

“If you know me, you know why I desire(d) to teach in area such as this,” Jagusch said on his Web site. He described his deep-seeded desire to “constantly provide care, support, aid and comfort to anyone in need.”

He expected to learn a lot about the culture and community there, but what he did not expect was to be so impacted by their love of music. As a musician, wheels started turningn in Jagusch’s head when he witnessed the way music is weaved into every part of Kiberan life.

He decided a formal music education program was necessary in Kibera so the children could really learn the craft of the music that impacts their lives so much. Jagusch started “Kibera Sings” so he could bring music classes to the poverty-stricken children.

He has raised enough money so far to bring a set of instruments to two separate programs in Kibera. They teach beginning music theory and classes to learn the new instruments. The classes receive a keyboard, percussion instruments, woodwinds, guitars and more.

Jagusch described the great response from the people of Kibera to his blog followers, saying he would usually have at least 20 students each day show up for his guitar classes.

“Their eagerness acts as a catalyst speeding up their progress, wanting me to teach them as much as possible in the short amount of time for each lesson,” he said. Jagusch would not only teach music to students but also to “the wandering artist that frequents the school grounds, the security guard, the groundsman and also some interested teachers.”

Jagusch is now back in the U.S., but the time he spent in Kibera and surrounding areas in Africa will affect the rest of his life.

“Bringing the instruments to the school was the closest thing to magic I’ve ever experienced,” he said on his blog.

His co-workers, family and friends have been the largest supporters of Kibera Sings so far, but anyone can help by visiting his blog to learn more.

Jagusch said on his blog, “A place that originally was going to be a few brief moments of time has become a permanent part of my life.”

To keep updated with Jagusch’s journey, visit

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