Friday, May 11, 2018
A special musical event is taking place today at the First Church of the Nazarene in Rogers. A group of young, charismatic children from Africa will perform a mixture of Christian contemporary music, ethnic worship music and favorite children's songs, as well as traditional rhythmic dances in beautiful handmade costumes.
The performance is by the African Children's Choir, and in its 34 years (and 48 choirs), the group has performed alongside artists like Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox and Keith Urban and, most recently, for the Queen of England. Through the organization Music for Life, the African Children's Choir seeks to support vulnerable children and invest in Africa's future through 35 educational and relief programs.
African Children’s Choir
WHEN — 6:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE — First Church of the Nazarene, 4911 W. Pleasant Grove Road in Rogers
COST — No tickets. Donations appreciated.
INFO — 636-1050, africanchildrenschoir.com
"I like to think of it as an investment rather than a charity," says choir manager Tina Sipp. "I think, at least in the Western mindset, 'charity' has kind of an overtone that takes away some of the dignity of the people you're trying to help. And [looking at it as an] investment, one child, for a relatively small amount of money in our view, the trajectory of that life can dramatically change. I mean, not just a one-degree change -- this is like a 180-degree change.
"The truth of the matter is that I would say the good majority of children are left out of education because even government schools require a uniform, pencils, papers ... these kinds of things that so many hundreds of thousands of families cannot afford," she goes on.
"There're a lot of uneducated people in Africa, and without an education, it's very difficult to break the cycle of poverty. So, it's very intentional, a very strategic plan, to raise up future leadership. [We're helping] one child at a time, and that one child is equally important to the greater target of raising up leadership and affecting change on the continent. So it's kind of small scale and big scale. The ripple effect of one child being changed is unending."
Most of the children who participate in the choir are orphans, or living in a situation where their families do not have the means to provide for them. But Sipp says one of the things she's proudest of is neither the performance, nor the organization, focuses on the negative for too long.
"We are not trying to manipulate people or pull heartstrings in the sense of painting this very, very bleak picture and really camping there," she says. "That is true of our children -- I mean, it is very bleak, tragic. But what we're trying to do is to showcase the beauty, potential and dignity of these children, and this future that they hold in their hands. That there is hope for any of our countries because of the youth -- if we properly invest in them."
With Western audiences, "all of a sudden perspectives start to shift a little bit, and they're magnetized by these children who are so happy in spite of their circumstance," Sipp continues. "And then, they begin to see the wealth of Africa's future -- it's right there on the stage. And these children are bright, they are talented, they're hilarious, they are engaging, they are polite, they are appreciative."
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