The short video below gives a flavour of two concerts held in Northern Ireland’s Millennium Forum in Derry/Londonderry, in April 2014. The concerts mark the beginning of “partnerships” between Music For Life (the parent body of The African Children’s Choir) and local schools, choirs, musicians and performers.
It was the enthusiastic response of the schools involved, both pupils and teachers as well as parents, that convinced Music For Life and African Children’s Choir founder and CEO, Ray Barnett, that the decision to partner with other choirs and schools was the right one.
It emerged that even aside from the obvious ‘music’ benefits, the opportunity for these pupils from Northern Ireland schools to actually meet and perform with real African children in their same age group, had a huge impact. As one headmistress said, “It brought the curriculum ‘alive’ for the pupils.” Her class researched where the African Children’s Choir members came from and what school and life in general will be like for them when they return home after their tour. Music For Life is now being encouraged, not only to plan more concerts in partnership with schools, but to take things a step further and develop educational programmes that would provide even more interaction among children from different backgrounds and cultures.
Ray Barnett with Denise Rosborough, Music For Life coordinator for Northern Ireland concerts.
Denise Rosborough was the person who acted as coordinator between Music For Life and the local schools. She also worked with other musicians and recording artists to write and record new material for the concerts. Denise had already founded the Barazina Youth Choir whose members were drawn from thirty schools in Northern Ireland. A further twelve school choirs from the wider Derry/Londonderry area took part in the Millenium Forum concerts. These were true cross community events, bringing children from different schools together with a common focus to use their talents to help others from a less privileged background . The feedback from the schools is that they want more, and Ray and the Music For Life team are now exploring how to expand a schools programme so that everyone involved will benefit.
Tuesday 8th and Saturday 12th April 2014, were two very important dates for the African Children’s Choir and their parent organisation, Music For Life. These were the dates when they joined forces with schools within a wide radius of the historic city of Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland, and jointly performed in the magnificent Millenium Forum in the city centre. Continue reading
Tillas and Tony are two former members of the African Children’s Choir who are attracting media attention in Kenya for all the right reasons. Today, they’re both entrepreneurs and businessmen who are making their mark in the business world. But for them, business is a means to help others, just as they were personally given help in the past. Tillas told the host of the AM Live show on Nairobi TV, “I wake up every morning knowing that I want to make a difference in people’s lives”. He went on to explain how the African Children’s Choir is what changed their lives and made them who they are today. They’re eternally grateful for the ‘chance’ they were given, having had school fees paid right from primary school through to University.
Today, as young businessmen, Tillas and Tony are giving back to the community by helping out at a center for under-privileged boys. They’re using proceeds from their business to provide school fees so that needy children can receive an education and develop their God given gifts and talents, just as they were enabled to do so. “Someone gave me the chance to go to school, I want to give the same opportunity to others”.
This story has been most gratifying since it illustrates exactly what my vision for the African Children’s Choir was right from the start. Yes I wanted to give needy children the opportunity to get an education, but I also wanted to instill in them the ‘values’ of helping others and giving back to their community and their country. I believed back then, and still do, that this is the best and most efficient way to help developing countries.
Many of you reading this have played a part in shaping the lives of children like Tillas and Tony. Through your gifts or sponsorships or just support at our concerts, etc. you have made a sound investment in young lives. Some approaches to poverty relief are in danger of producing a ‘dependency culture’. From the outset we took the approach that it was a hand up, not a hand out. We wanted to enable and empower children so that they would reach adulthood with the ability to become self sufficient and have sufficient resources to help others in need.
Our mission hasn’t changed in the thirty years we have been doing this. We now have many success stories like Tillas and Tony and these are great motivators for us to keep focused on the vision as we face increasing challenges. As I viewed this video I felt grateful for the children under our responsibility since I know that many of them too will turn like Tillas and Tony. I’m grateful to God for the ‘vision’ He has given us to help orphans and underprivileged children in Africa, and give them a better future. And I’m very grateful to all of you who through your love and prayers and support over the past thirty years, have made all of this possible. I would urge you to be inspired by watching the video below.
St Patrick and my own Irish roots
With St Patrick’s day fast approaching on 17 March, my thoughts always turn toward the place of my birth and upbringing in County Antrim. This is the same county where St. Patrick tended sheep, and where he developed a close relationship with God and felt the “call” to bring the gospel to pagan Ireland.
Music For Life Center, Kenya.
We’ve been very honored in recent days to receive accolades in relation to African Children’s Choir performances in Freetown, Massachusetts, in the USA. One was from the Freetown Board of Selectmen, and the other from Congressman, Joe Kennedy. (Please visit the ‘Latest News’ section of www.africanchildrenschoir.com to read these in full.)
In his letter, Joe Kennedy stated, “It is clear to me, that the African Children’s Choir is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the children of Africa”. Continue reading