The African Children's Choir, created in 1984 by founder Ray Barnett, is a very unique approach to raising world awareness about poverty and starvation. Inspired by a young African vocalist, Ray considered the impact that a choir of such young voices, powered by their tragic stories and belief of a better tomorrow, might have. So it began. It was launched as a programme of Friends in the West- to raise money for the children of Africa by giving people a chance to see the children for themselves, and the opportunity to hear their songs and stories. Now, 18 choirs later, the results have been tremendous. As supporter Val Middleton phrased it:

"Actually to physically see the kids is what made the amazing difference." she says. "They are all the product of conflict but they show such amazing talent and there's so much joy."

The children in the current choir, (eighteen from Kenya and eight from Uganda) have just started their tour of the west. Aged between seven and twelve, each of these members has lost at least one parent, and all come from families poverty stricken by war and famine. For them, it is the chance to escape from the terror of their homes, and the opportunity to help raise funds for area schools. Children who complete the choir tours are automatically financed through the choir for the rest of their school days, but the choir provides support for literally thousands of other children who would not be able to support the weekly education fees on their own.

This year sees the opening of the African Children's Choir's own School of Performing Arts in Makerere, Uganda, and plans are under way in Sudan to build a new secondary school building to seat over 360 students, now learning in the open air.

Sources:Issue Five of "The International Magazine of The African Children's Choir"

If anyone cares to support the African Children's Choir, Information can be found by going to:
Please note that "support" can be anything from help financing, to donating time, to giving Choir members a place to stay if they are performing in your area. I saw them perform on Sunday, and it was well worth the time and energy.

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