It’s a long way from Saanich to Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, but that isn’t stopping African Children’s Choir from coming to the Island for a series of lively concerts.
The 43rd rendition of the choir is coming to the district for two shows that are sure to delight audiences with the children’s energetic singing and dancing. Eighteen children – nine boys and nine girls – are set to perform on Friday at Emmanuel Baptist and Sunday at North Douglas Pentecostal.
“It’s very moving and very inspiring – I think what people leave with is the spirit of the children,” said choir manager Tina Sipp. “It’s engaging, it’s bright, it’s colourful.”
The ACC was founded by missionary Ray Barnet in 1984 after a trip to Uganda, where religious persecution had left hundreds of thousands of children orphaned.
“During that time, he gave a ride to a little boy to a village, and the little boy sang praise songs the whole way,” said Sipp. “Ray was really taken by that and thought, if we could just bring these children to the west, I’m sure they would want to help support them.”
To date, more than 1,200 children between the ages of seven and 12 have been a part of the choir. Many have lost one or both parents to AIDS or other poverty-related diseases, and all are victims of extreme poverty.
Through the choir, the children are provided support for education that they otherwise wouldn’t receive. Sipp said without education, it is challenging for many children to break out of the cycle of poverty.
“What we’re trying to do is raise money to educate as many children as we can so that they can become self-sustaining and to contribute back to their communities, their countries, their continent, in a very positive way,” she said.
“It really becomes a family for these children. We sponsor them from primary school all the way through post-secondary – through college, through technical training, through vocational training. Whatever it is they qualify for, we support them through that.”
The choir performs a mix of English and African songs, ranging from well-loved children’s tunes to traditional, spiritual and gospel favourites.
The concerts are free, but donations are encouraged, which support such ACC programs as education, care and relief and development programs. Over the last 31 years, more than 52,000 children have been enrolled in their education programs.
“Our hope is that when people see the potential of these children and the ambassadors they could become, they’re really giving to Africa’s future,” said Sipp. “It’s a huge calling that we have, to do our best to raise up the future generation.”
Choir 43 performs at Emmanuel Baptist, 2121 Cedar Hill Cross Rd., on Oct. 30 and North Douglas Pentecostal, 675 Jolly Pl., on Nov. 1. Both shows start at 7 p.m. For more information, visit africanchildrenschoir.com.