Ray Barnett, founder:
Friends In The West
The African Children’s Choir
Music For Life
Ray’s humanitarian work actually began in Eastern Europe through Friends In The West, before the formation of the better known, African Children’s Choir. It was his quest to help those who were being persecuted for their faith that first led him to travel to Africa, where under the Idi Amin regime, hundreds of Christians had been rounded up and had been given a death sentence. The aftermath of civil wars in Uganda left many casualties, not least thousands of orphaned children. Friends In The West moved there to help and bring humanitarian aid.
Ray decided to be innovative in his approach when he first encountered poverty and starvation in Africa. He knew the key to engaging people was to have them meet the children face to face and hear their voices; hear their message of hope. In 1984, he founded the African Children’s Choir, and serves as the director and visionary for the non-profit organisation working to develop the Choir into an internationally acclaimed performing group while raising funds to help thousands of destitute children receive an education and hope.
Under his leadership, the Choir has gained international recognition, performing at Live8, at the House of Commons and the Pentagon, and appearing at some of the world’s most prestigious halls, including The London Palladium, The International Club of Berlin and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.
Through his work with the Choir, Ray Barnett has been able to raise millions of pounds to establish numerous schools throughout Africa that serve children who would otherwise have no chance at an education. He has also been able to raise significant money for emergency relief and development programmes in Somalia, Sudan and Rwanda, and more recently to help orphaned children in South Africa who are battling hunger and disease.
Ray who resides in White Rock, British Columbia, has been the subject of two television documentaries and has received numerous awards and honours for his work. These include the prestigious Cross of Nails, awarded by the Coventry Cathedral in England to recognise his widespread efforts to promote peace throughout the world, and the Heart of Gold Award bestowed by Esther Ranson at the BBC.