Singing and dancing on behalf of their family, friends, neighbors, and their villages, the children from seven African countries will lift their voices in songs of hope when they perform at the Fish Creek’s Door Community Auditorium Friday, July 31 at 7 pm.
The history of the African Children’s Choir (ACC) begins more than 25 years ago when civil rights activist Ray Bennett visited Uganda where an estimated 150,000 children had been orphaned. It was an unconscionable situation and Bennett dedicated himself to improving the children’s living conditions. “I thought, if we could take a group of these beautiful children to the west, that would surely raise money to help their country,” Bennett recalled. And so the African Children’s Choir and its parent charitable organization Music for Life Institute were founded.
Initially, the original choir was intended to perform for one time only, but the overwhelmingly supportive response to the children led to the creation of a schedule of appearances that today includes concerts around the globe. Selected through an audition process, the children, ages 7 through 11 years old, perform on tour for approximately a year. Following the tour, each child returns home to continue his or her education in schools funded by the proceeds generated by the concerts.
In its first 25 years, the ACC has provided relief support for about 8,000 children, including funding for the “Lost Boys” of the Sudan and AIDS orphans in South Africa. In the first quarter of 2008, ACC “Journey of Hope” concerts raised $1.1 million in support of Africa’s children.
Former ACC members also receive university scholarship assistance. Although the ACC was initially comprised of Uganda’s children, the ensemble has been expanded to include youngsters from Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, the Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, and South Africa. Their performances reflect their cultural heritages, their songs and dances recount tall tales of hunters stalking leopards, fishing amid crocodiles, harvesting the fruits of the earth, and tribal traditions.