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The African Children’s Choir brings a whole new meaning to the term strength in numbers. Except these numbers all range between the ages of 7-10 and can fill a room with such hope and joy you know, you are witnessing something special. That was my experience during the NYC ChangeMakers Gala on November 17th when I had the opportunity to see the African Children’s Choir perform.
The choir which started in 1984 has had 32 years of improving the lives of orphaned African children. I had the opportunity to speak with three of the kids from the choir and there is nothing like the candidness of a child to put things into perspective.
Chatting with them and their chaperones David and Sanai who where also kids in the choir and now give back their time, reaffirmed the notion that less is more in life.
For many of these kids getting an education—- daily is the highlight of this opportunity. Not to mention the exposure and skills they are fortunate to mold at such a tender age. I loved our chat and I know you will too.
Blessing, Sam and Winfred choir members Ages 7,7 and 8 years old’s interview
Mm: How long have you all been singing in the African Children’s Choir?
Blessing: Well, 3 months.
Mm: What do you love about being apart of this really fun group?
Mm: Performing, wow! Did you know how to be a performer before this?
Mm: No, how did you learn and become comfortable?
Kids: We went to the training academy and they taught us.
Mm: How long were you in the training academy?
Winfred: 4 months
Mm: How do you and the other kids balance school and performing?
Kids: We just go to churches and we spend like two or three days and we do school.
Mm: What is your favorite subject in school for you three?
Mm: Nice, Math for Winfred. What about you Sam?
Mm: Math, oh wow. What about you Blessing?
Mm: You guys need to teach me math then, because that is not favorite subject!! What are your favorite songs?
Blessing: My favorite song is Whole World.
Mm: And you Sam?
Sam: My favorite song is Our God.
Mm: Our God, that sounds like its a good song. Winfred, what is your favorite song?
Winfred: This little light and rejoice.
Mm: Well you guys are three beaming lights along with the rest of your friends in the choir. Do you feel like you are a bright light in the world?
Kids: YES!! [In unison]
Mm: You do! How would you encourage other kids to do good and want to sing in the choir like you are one day?
Sam: We pray for them that they may come in the choir. We should tell them that they should also pray to God to come into the choir.
Mm: Amen! I wish you three and the rest of your group a really great performance. Are you having fun in New York so far?
Mm: Thank you so much for talking with me before your show. I appreciate it so, so much!
Kids: You’re Welcome……Thank you.
CHOIR DIRECTOR/ CHAPERONES DAVID + SANIA
Mm: So David is also from Uganda. You were also in the choir years ago. Exactly how long ago?
David: I was in the choir 20 years ago.
Mm: 20 years ago wow! How did you even join such a great organization?
David: My mom use to be in the village close to one of the schools that the organization supports. She came in contact with one of the staff members at the school, who told her to bring her son over for a choir audition. So I went and I was selected for the choir and since then my life changed.
Mm: Your life has dramatically changed. What are some of the ways that your life changed that is even a surprise to you now?
David: Well one, I got to travel to many places through the choir program. I also got to get an education through the choir program. I went back home and I studied all the way to the University and I graduated two years back.
Mm: Oh wow, congratulations! What did you get your studies in?
David: I did a bachelor in Fisheries and Aquaculture in Kampala, Africa.
Mm: So what has brought you back to now being a full time chaperone to the kids as well one of the choir directors?
David: Well, I came back to give back to the organization for helping me. So, I also wanted to help other children as well just like I was helped.
Mm: What’s it like being on the other side?
David: It’s a blessing to impact these children the same way I was impacted. I get to see things differently as an adult. I get to go to these different places that I many have been to before but now I see them in a different perspective which is nice.
Mm: Do you ever see a kids or all the kids and think — can relate to you because I had that same maybe fear, joy or uncertainty when you were a kid?
David: Yes, I personally didn’t have a father. I lost my dad when I was a month old and some of these children are in a similar situation. It’s a source of encouragement. Like you can make it also in life and with this opportunity you have no excuse not to make it.
Mm: I love it— no excuse. David thank you so much for sitting and chatting with me.
David: Thank you!
Sania was also in the choir, choir 19 I just learned. Now she is also a chaperone and she is working with the kids as a leader and role model to them. When did you start doing that?
Sania: I started training with them in April after I graduated from college. I just thought you know what, let me give this one year to these children. So I started training with them in April and we came out on the road on August 29th.
Mm: What led you into going in this direction post college? You could have done anything.
Sania: Yes, well after college I didn’t really have anything to do. I didn’t have a job or nothing that I was anxious about.
Mm: Gosh girl, thats most of us!! haha
Sania: haha, so I sat there and thought I could be a chaperone to these children and also be someone who is trying to mentor them and lead them into the right way like how I also was mentored when I was in the choir. So I applied!
Mm: And, how has it impacted you now being on the other side?
Sania: It has impacted me so much, so many times I look at them and think wow. That’s me right there. This how I use to be this is how goofy I was, so playful. There is one boy now in the choir Richmond he cant sit still, he is like all over the place and I look at him and think— wow this is how I was. The fact that I can mentor them and lead them into the right path and let them know what is good, what is bad what is not good for you. Has been very helpful in my life knowing I have reached this level of development and I didn’t go astray from the teaching that they gave into my life. And, the fact that I can also minister to these children has been such a blessing to my life.
Mm: Do you think the kids have an inkling or how much of an impact this organization is on their life? Cause, you see it like you said, now that you have developed in this manner you can see it yet do you think they are aware?
Sania: The most that they are aware of is the education. Most of the kids were not going to school everyday. Some of them would stay at home for a whole term or a whole year and then maybe next year they would go to school. Because of funding their parents didn’t have enough school fees or money to take them to school. The fact that they are doing school everyday… they have books they have pens they have pencils and backpacks. Backpacks are huge! The fact that they have a backpack is like huge for them. Also the fact of coming to America, not everyone comes to America in Uganda— getting on a plane. A plane is seen a something impossible to do. So the fact that they have that, sometimes they are aware of how blessed they are because we tell them how blessed they are. But as a child you don’t really grasp it…. yet the education thing they have really grasped it. When you ask one of them what has been the biggest change that has happened to you they will say, I go to school everyday. That’s been very impactful in their lives.
Mm: Well seeing that you were in choir 19 and you are now chaperoning choir 46. Where would you like to if you could see yourself in another 5 years, what will you be doing?
Sania: In the next 5 years, I would like to help as many people as I can. For example working with these children has brought out another side of me that I didn’t know. So now-a-days I cant just pass by a child and not say hi to them or be playful with them. I want to go home [Uganda] maybe and help more people….. I don’t know yet I am just hoping that I can do something for people in need — especially children.
Mm: Amen to that, I love it. Thank you for chatting with me. I am so excited to be apart of this event today and meet with you and the kids.
Sania: Yes, we thank you!
Please keep up with The African Children’s Choir and find out how you to can help in the pursuit of their journey.
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