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Draper Journal

African Children’s Choir Travels to Utah for Sponsorship

Sep 29, 2016 02:41PM ● By Chris Larson

Choir members spend 10 months touring in the U.S. (African Children’s choir)

By Chris Larson | [email protected]

Leaving home for 10 months and traveling over 8,000 miles to perform in a choir is daunting enough for anyone. For a child, it’s unimaginable. But doing it with the knowledge that your education — all the way from primary school to university — could be paid for by generous strangers appears to make it worth it. 

The African Children's Choir operates under such a premise for African children in dire need. 

The choir performed twice in Salt Lake County on Sept. 4, at Mountain View Christian Assembly in Sandy and Cottonwood Presbyterian Church in Murray. 

Cottonwood Presbyterian Church member Deb Abbott heard the choir perform back in 2001 when living in Colorado. She was excited to hear that the choir was looking for performance and sponsorship opportunities in the area. 

“They gifted us with a performance that was outstanding,” Abbott said. “Many of the (congregation members) hosted the children — with their adult chaperones — in our homes.” 

“It was an exceptional experience,” she said.

She suggested to the Discipleship Ministry Team, the church’s outreach group to member and nonmember children, that the African Children’s Choir would present a “wonderful experience for the kids and for the community to hear them and receive the beautiful spirit they bring.”  

According to Sarah Lidstone, North American choir operations manager for the parent organization Music for Life, the choir currently touring the western U.S. is an exclusively Ugandan choir. The choir typically represents children from all over the continent. 

“I have been able to chat with parents as they have said goodbye to their children,” Lidstone said. “They are obviously sad they will have that time apart, but know the opportunity is one that they don’t want to take away.”

The ultimate goal of the touring choir, according to Lidstone, is to raise awareness of the plight of underprivileged children all across the African continent and promote them to donate to the educational efforts of Music for Life

The “big enchilada” for being a 7-year-old to 11-year-old on this choir is to find someone willing to sponsor a child’s education in Africa. 

Abbott described the children as joyful, well-mannered and bright, saying that the children often called the hosting families “auntie” and “uncle.”

The choir has two separate choirs that are touring on either ends of the nation’s coasts. Choir 45 started touring in April 2016 and will end in January 2017. They will conclude in Texas after zig-zagging all over the U.S. 

Each child, Lidstone said, is considered vulnerable and doesn’t have access to a “proper education” or “stable living condition.” After the tour, the children will go to a boarding school for primary school. 

Abbott and her family sponsored an African child’s schooling earlier in the year through the choir program. They also sponsored a child’s education years earlier. That child — whom they’ve kept in close contact — is now in college. 

She said everyone should hear the choir’s performances and seriously consider supporting educational philanthropy in Africa. 

Lidstone also suggested such a consideration. She said that the education of the African children now will help them become leaders and innovators that will help improve their communities in the future.