As girls in Chamber Choir were warming up with scales, Bogaletch Gebre, director of Kembatta Women’s Self-Help Center-Ethiopia, walked in wearing sunglasses and a smile March 22.
History instructor Martha Schuur, who introduced Gebre as an activist fighting the abuse of women, AIDS, and poverty, joked that Gebre arrived “Hollywood style.”
Girls and teachers laughed, but soon quieted down when Gebre started thanking the girls for recording “Dendinem,” a song that translates as “together, yes we can” in the unwritten language Kembattissa in Kembatta, Ethiopia.
“I just want to thank you. It was wonderful for you, who never heard it before, saying ‘yes, we can,’” Gebre said. “It inspired us and gave us energy to think that somewhere out in the world, people are singing our song. You gave us more than you can imagine.”
Gebre also talked about how the girls in Ethiopia aren’t so different from the girls in Chamber Choir.
“They don’t have the same opportunities, but they want to be healthy and participate in the world as a full person,” Gebre said.
The girls then sang “Up to the Mountain” by Patty Griffin. Faith ’10 began, “I went up to the mountain because you asked me to. Up over the clouds to where the sky was blue,” and the choir joined in for the chorus, “The peaceful valley, few come to know…I Sooner or later, it’s there I will go.”
Gebre sat with fingers clasped, then signaled Laurie Becklund, mother of a Marlborough alumna who works in Ethiopia with Gebre, to give necklaces of metal hearts to the choir.
“We are whole,” Gebre said.
Listen to Chamber Choir’s song: