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African Children's Chior performs in Hampton

Jordan Crawford | 7/18/2013, 10:48 a.m.
The African Children's Choir wows Warwick Assembly of God with energetic song and dance.

To raise awareness of the need of destitute and orphaned children in Africa and to raise funds for continued development and support is the primary goal for the African Children’s Choir.

In 1984, human rights activist Ray Barnett traveled to war-torn Uganda on a humanitarian trip. While there, he recalls giving a small boy a ride from his dilapidated home to a safer village. On the way, the child sang without a care in the world.

The child’s simple songs of pride and hope birthed a program that has changed the lives of thousands of children while reshaping the future of the African continent.

“When I went back to Canada and people were not very interested in Uganda, I remembered this small boy,” Barnett explained. “I knew that if only a group of these beautiful children could go to the West, people would be deeply moved and would certainly want to help.”

From there the African Children’s Choir was born.

The first African Children’s Choir members were selected from vulnerable children and orphans in the Kampala and Luwero areas of Uganda. After they were trained to perform and prepared for living in different cultures, the choir travelled from Uganda to tour amongst North American church communities.

Dansi na kuimba means “dance and sing” in Ugandan language and that is exactly what the African Children’s Choir did on Sunday. Ranging in age from 7 to 10, the 16-member ensemble clothed in vibrant African garb melted the hearts of the Warwick Assembly of God congregation while performing lively renditions of songs and dances associated with Uganda’s wedding traditions, and familiar tunes such as “Amazing Grace,” and “This Little Light of Mine.”

It was already astounding to witness the talented youth with their radiant excitement, and wide, charming smiles. Furthermore, viewers were truly blessed because despite their rough and unflattering situations at home, the choir was a testament to how one can experience joy in the time of sorrow.

Nabwami Dorothy, the choir’s 27-year-old director, sang in the choir as a youngster. She now volunteers for the group to pay back the organization for helping her attend school and college.

Music for Life, the parent organization to the African Children’s choir, works in the African countries of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, South Africa, and Ghana. MFL has educated over 52,000 children and impacted the lives of over 100,000 people through its relief and development programs.

“I came from a very poor family,” Dorothy said. “My mother cared for nine children. I was the only one who went to school, the only one from my family. When I went to college, the organization paid the fees. If not for them, I wouldn’t have gone to school like my other siblings.”

The choir serves as the main fundraising branch for MFL, with proceeds from the choir’s work used to fund education and relief efforts for African children affected by disease and poverty.

With their first tour, the choir raised enough money to open the First Children’s Home at Markerere. The home provided a stable environment and quality education for the choir members and other children who needed care. The success and popularity of the choir’s first tour allowed for a second choir to be selected from the Children’s Home, and a second tour was set in motion.