The widow sits on the woven mat, head bowed, legs extended. The village women wander in from all directions and sit quietly, some with sleeping babies tied to their backs. A lone voice starts a song and in moments, the whole community joins in mournful 3-part harmony. They are gathered here under the African night sky to grieve with their friend through music. They are here to show her that they understand, that they know the pain of loss, that she’s not alone. They enfold her in song, one after another, and they are in no hurry. There is no agenda, no program, no words spoken. The dignity in raw grief, the strength and beauty of these women, the power of their music takes the breath away.

On another day, the same women gather excitedly under a tin roof in a mud-brick church. This time the air is charged with a different kind of electricity as they laugh and tease one another. They gather in sharp formation and begin to collectively move their feet in rhythm. They sing song after song of faith and joy as friends from across the globe perch precariously on rickety benches holding digital recording equipment to capture not only their sound, but their spirit.

The spirit of the struggling widow. The spirit of the woman afflicted with AIDS. The spirit of the grandmother whose house is overflowing with orphans and the young woman whose child lies on a mat in the corner, burning with malarial fever.

Stories – and the people who live and connect through those stories – are at the very heart of Ancient Path. Not stories about an organization or about what we do, but stories about the amazing people we have had the privilege to know and partner with through the years. Stories about what we have learned from each other along the way and how that learning has changed our lives. Stories that make the world a little smaller, our hearts a little bigger and draw us all closer.