COMING SOON! African Children’s Choir is Ministry, Growth, Healing and Hope ---Grade-school Ambassadors Spread Joy, Escape Strife in Shreveport, World
by Marcinho Savant, Staff Writer
Childhood is hard. Especially when you are disadvantaged. Often with no prospects for a brighter future. Thanks to a Canadian Christian organization, Music for Life, African children tour the world, over ten demanding months per year--- for the most eye-opening experience of their young lives. They enlighten audiences, enmeshing them in their musical offerings. African smiles.
Music for Life also has offices in Bellingham, Washington, and in Langley, British Columbia. Their stirring, heartwarming, brand of song sharing arrives in Shreveport on November 20th, 2016.
These children are sent off away from home, with their family’s reluctant, fearful, blessings, and their gratitude. Their children get the chance of a lifetime which would likely never have come to them. An immediate, and indelible, benefit of the choir’s existence is that the members--- while spreading music from city to hamlet--- get to see a lifestyle, career opportunities, and a future they never even knew existed. Their parents recognize this rare exposure and, begrudgingly, or eagerly, send their children away into the wider world. Savvy, global, concert artists, the children are between the ages of eight and 12.
These mini-musicians serve audiences a cultural Smörgåsbord of exchange. They lovingly share a glimpse into what African children are really like. They share their pride of identity, and of their formidable achievements--- before they even make it to high school age. Founded in 1984 African Children’s Choir, has produced multiple choirs. This visiting 2016 choir marks the 45th since its inception. There are two touring groups: west coast, and east.
According to Heidi Moen, one of several volunteer Tour Chaperones, and a Tour Leader, she has been traveling with one of the two touring choirs for the past three years. She is in attendance at each of the, approximately, one hundred-fifty concerts performed by her unit each year.
No tickets are sold. The choir depends on the donations of their audiences. The funds go to feed the programs that benefit the children where they live. Audience members reap many rewards in exchange.
“So many audiences come away filled with the children’s energy, their sense of hope and joy, even though they come from very little. Abundant, however, in every case, are the smiles on their faces while experiencing the choir’s performances. Attendees are able to see a different perspective of African culture, as opposed to the abject despair, and hopelessness (often portrayed in the media). Better still, the kids present a different cultural view in spite of their difficult circumstances. They show their joy despite it all.”
“The children's eyes are opened to a bigger world, they see different jobs, and other things that they don’t even know exist. It shows them what can be possible in their future, if work hard in school.” The organization provides education through university, affording the kids an opportunity to get an education where it would, otherwise have been unobtainable, for any number of reasons.
Factors range from families which couldn’t afford to furnish this exposure, children having to work to support the family, and limited opportunities in their home communities. But, Moen states, Music For Life’s African Children's Choir endeavors to preserve the children’s essence, unaltered from their own culture.
“One of our greatest challenges is, with young people coming from African backgrounds--- is how to keep these Ugandan children as “African” as possible, as they are returning home. They all have to return home, so we try very hard to keep them as unassimilated to the West as possible. It gives the youngsters a good mix of honoring, and preserving their normalcy, and gaining worldly experiences”, Moen said.
Uganda is largely a Christian country. Further to their origins, African Children’s Choir assures that the “children are discipled toward Christianity”, according to Ms. Moen. They maintain a policy of catering to, and fostering, Christian values, and participants.
They work incessantly. A mission of music, enlightenment, and joy,
African Children’s Choir’s central goal in all of it, is generating awareness of the realities of African children, informing the public how people can help, and get involved.
”One of the biggest gifts you can give a child is an education”, Moen said.
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IF YOU GO (And You'll HATE if you MISS it!):