A new generation of ChangeMakers for Africa
On a cold, snowy night in November, a group of 17 children from Uganda celebrated and shared their country and heritage through song, dance and drumming at the First Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem.
The group, changing three times into the colorful costumes of their country, filled the packed sanctuary with voices raised in joyful harmony, singing traditional Ugandan and Christian songs of praise. Few audience members could resist the toe-tapping rhythms and pure harmonies created by the smiling, energetic performers.
These children, ages 8-10, comprise one of two groups from the African Children’s Choir touring the United States and United Kingdom for 10 months to raise awareness and money to support primary and secondary education for students in Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan, Kenya and Ghana.
The group’s CEO, Ray Barnett, founded the choir in 1984 after hearing a broadcast publicizing the starvation and deaths of 150,000 children affected by the civil war in northern Uganda. Having visited the country several years earlier on a humanitarian trip, he wanted to reach out and help the children.
Moved by what he saw, he created a choir to show the Western world the youngsters’ beauty and innocence through music, hoping that the organization would provide a foundation to raise awareness of the children’s plight and raise money to provide them with a more sustainable future.
The organization is dedicated to helping Africa’s most vulnerable children today, so they can help Africa tomorrow.
Its mission statement says, “We generate hope, healing, and justice for the innocent and vulnerable children of Africa caught up in areas of conflict and crisis, to enable these children to become ChangeMakers in Africa.”
The organization does this by:
• Promoting the beauty, dignity, and unlimited ability of the African child around the world, being a voice for the millions of suffering children who cannot speak for themselves.
• Providing for their well being and quality education utilizing the transformative power of music.
• Instilling Christian principles through teaching and leading by example.
• Bringing relief and development to African nations in crisis.