Benefit concert’s proceeds will help build cottages for rescued sex-trafficking victims.
By Michael Miller
Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 10:13 PM PDT
Huntinton Beach Independant
Less than half a year ago, Samu ventured to the United States in hopes of pursuing a music career. The Kenyan rapper is now on tour, with seven concert dates lined up around the Southland in March and April.
But when he takes the stage for the first show this weekend, his career will be the last thing on his mind.
Samu is one of nearly a dozen musicians touring to raise money for Courage to Be You, a charity that provides homes and support for girls rescued from human trafficking. Back in his home country, Samu said, musicians often played for a cause, and he jumped at the chance to do a benefit in America.
“Back in Kenya, we try to reach out to the young guys with our music,” he said. “Hearing they wanted to reach out to young girls who have been trafficked, that got me in.”
On Monday night, Samu and other artists will take the stage at Robinwood Church in Huntington Beach for the third stop on their tour. The event has no required admission fee, but through donations and merchandise sales, organizers hope to raise funds to create a home for rescued girls.
The nonprofit started doing benefit concerts in October after producing a CD, “Believe in Me,” which features Christian-themed songs by eight artists. Monday’s show comes at a moment of hope for the organization; just a week ago, Courage to Be You bought a 50-acre property near Sacramento, known as Courage House, and needs funds to build cottages on the land.
The property already contains a house and horse stables and may open by early summer, Creative Director Stephanie Midthun said.
The facilities can house six girls; the nonprofit’s goal is to raise money for up to 92 beds.
“As many cottages as we can build out is what we’re going to do,” Midthun said.
The Elk Grove resident, who has her own band, wrote the song that provided the “Believe in Me” album with its title track. Los Angeles-based filmmaker Aaron Schnobrich created a music video for the song that tells the story of a child caught in the sex-trafficking world, and the CD and video will be on sale for $20 at Monday’s concert.
In addition to Samu, other artists include Chaya, Christine Smit and the Reel, which will play its own set and serve as the backup band for many of the solo vocalists. Vicky Zito, the mother of a daughter who was kidnapped by traffickers, will also give a presentation at the show.
Cameron Stymeist, the lead singer and songwriter for the Reel, said he recently visited Delhi, India, with a member of his church who is considering starting a nonprofit there for victims of trafficking. The trip, he said, gave him a sobering view of some of the world’s most blighted slums.
Stymeist, though, believes many are unaware about similar problems in the U.S.
“Here, it’s hidden,” he said. “A lot of people I’ve met and people around me are completely unaware, and they’re shocked when they hear anything about sex trafficking or someone being held against their will and sold for sex. It’s completely crazy.”