A Sherwood church will host a large Youth African Choir next month. The choir, with members from Uganda and Kenya, has helped build several orphanages on the African continent over the past 25 years, in an on-going effort to help protect vulnerable children in various war-torn areas there.
On Sunday, Jan. 19, Friendship Baptist Church, 10150 Brockington Road, Sherwood, will host the choir. The public is invited to hear them perform, according to church spokesperson Lydia Sherwood.
“The Young Africans are a gifted group of singers, musicians and dancers who were all once a part of the world-renowned African Children’s Choir,” Sherwood said.
Concerts are free and open to all. A free-will offering is taken at the performance to support education, care, relief and development programs.
Music for Life (the parent organization for The African Children’s Choir) works in seven African countries: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
MFL has educated over 52,000 children and impacted the lives of over 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.
Throughout the performance the Young Africans share various cultural elements from their countries of Kenya and Uganda with a Stomp-inspired dance and unique African instruments.
Audiences will be inspired and moved as the transformation of once vulnerable children to mature and educated adults unfolds, said Sherwood.
“Join us as we celebrate the achievements and talents of these remarkable young adults, who, in the face of adversity, have risen to become the future Change Makers of Africa,” said Sherwood.
Over 25 years ago, Choir Founder Ray Barnett was on a humanitarian trip to war-torn Uganda when he gave a small boy a ride from his decimated home to the safety of another village. During the journey, the child did what he knew how to do best – he sang. That simple song of dignity and hope became the catalyst for a program that has changed the lives of thousands of children and reshaped 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. Rallying support from the West, Barnett coordinated the first tour of the Choir, which successfully brought the voices of 31 children from war-torn Africa to the West. The Choir inspired audiences with their stories and raised enough funds to open the first Children’s Home. The Home provided a stable environment and a quality education for the Choir children and additional children who needed care. The success and instant popularity of the first tour encouraged Barnett to continue; and a second Choir was selected from the Children’s Home, and the African Children’s Choir began another tour.
The Choir’s success meant that it was able to provide for many children beyond those in the Choir. Over the next few years, six more children’s homes were established to care for vulnerable children, many of whom had been orphaned during the war. Additionally, the African Children’s Choir established a number of special Literacy Schools in Uganda where hundreds of children learned to read and write and gained confidence and skills that ensured a brighter future.
As the children got older, the program developed a sponsorship arm where all of the educational needs of these children could continue through secondary school. In most cases, the children went on to higher education.