They come from dire situations where their potential could easily have been stifled but instead, a choir of African children deliver performances brimming with joy.
The African Children’s choir taken on tour by the Music for Life organization perform to raise funds which will help give other disadvantaged children access to education. They will be performing in Penticton and Summerland on Sunday, May 5, and in Salmon Arm on Friday, May 10.
The Summerland performance will be held at 10 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church and the evening show in Penticton will be held at 7 p.m. at Concordia Lutheran Church. The show in Salmon Arm will be at the Shuswap Community Church beginning at 7 p.m.
Choir manager Tina Sipp said attendees at the show can look forward to a 70-minute program entitled Just as I Am, which focuses on well-known hymns set to an African rhythm. The performance will also feature colourful costumes, dance, drumming and, most of all, the joyous energy of the choir members who range between ages seven and 10.
“Just the spirit they exude is quite remarkable,” Sipp said.
In lieu of tickets for sale, donations will be accepted at the concerts. Money raised goes to a good cause, improving the prospects at getting an education for children in a number of impoverished African nations.
Sipp said African children’s choirs have been touring to raise funds for 35 years. The first choir members were war orphans who grew up in Uganada during the brutal reign of the dictator Idi Amin. Although there is not an active war on now, the Ugandan children in the choir come from circumstances that limit their educational horizons. The funds raised by the choir’s concerts can profoundly alter the futures for the children in the choir and thousands of others.
More than 52,000 children have been helped on the path to education by funds from the touring children’s choirs.
Sipp said she has heard from Ugandans that the government-funded school system isn’t what it could be. Parents still have to pay for uniforms and other school supplies, an insurmountable obstacle for families struggling to keep food on the table.
“You have all this wasted potential of children not able to go to school and get an education. We’re kind of standing in the gap to try to provide an opportunity for these children to actualize the potential that’s within them,” Sipp said.
Sipp said creating opportunity for some children in impoverished African nations starts a ripple effect, giving the educated children the opportunity to help others out of poverty.