The African Children's Choir of Uganda has been singing for their future since 1984. The choir is once again bringing their angelic voices to our area when they perform Sept. 15 at Vision Church at Christian International.
The choir is a nonprofit humanitarian and relief organization dedicated to helping Africa's most vulnerable children today so they can help Africa tomorrow. The children, ages 7 to 10 years, travel the United States and other countries for 12 to 16 months straight before returning to their homes. During that time, their only contact with family is via cards and letters. However, the children have the full support of their parents to be away for such a long period of time because the tour and their performances give them all hope for the future.
"They are spreading a message of God and hope, and their needs," said Catherine Wake, tour leader. "It's a great experience for them. Traveling and experiencing a different world opens their eyes and minds to what is out there and what they can be — teachers, dentists, doctors, lawyers, firefighters — all the possibilities that are out there that they could become if they put the work into it. This tour helps the kids and helps Uganda and their future."
All the children in the choir are from poor families in Uganda, and all can benefit from going on the tour, said Wake.
While on tour, the children and their chaperones stay at churches or with host families, and all have at least four sponsors who provide for their needs on the tour.
Admission to each of their performances is free, but offerings are taken with all contributions going toward their continuing education when they return home. Most of their sponsors are in the United States, but some are in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.
Wake has been on tour with this particular group of children since January, touring the eastern United States, including Ohio, New York, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia, working its way down along the coast.
She earned her teaching degree last year in her native Canada.
"I knew I wanted to do something fulfilling and to help people, so when I heard about this, I checked into it and applied," she said. "To be able to be with these kids is exciting, and to travel and be with people from all over. I see the good work. I would like to stay involved in some way when my tour is up."
The choir has melted the hearts of its audiences with their smiles, beautiful voices and lively African songs and dances.
The children sing beloved children's songs, traditional spirituals and gospel favorites, including "Amazing Grace" and "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands."
Offerings taken at each performance go to support African Children's Choir programs such as education, care and relief and development programs.
Music for Life (The parent organization for The African Children's Choir) works in seven African countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. MFL has educated more than 52,000 children and impacted the lives of more than 100,000 people through its relief and development programs during its history. MFL's purpose is to help create new leadership for tomorrow's Africa, by focusing on education.
The African Children's Choir has performed before presidents, and heads of state including the Queen of England for her Diamond Jubilee. The choir has also sung alongside artists such as Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Keith Urban, and others.
The group will deliver its performance Sept. 15 at Vision Church at its 10 a.m. service. The church is located at 5200 U.S. Highway 98E in Santa Rosa Beach. For more information call 231-2660 or visit www.africanchildrenschoir.com.