LAKE JACKSON — A doctor, a dentist, a teacher, an electrician — these were some of the dreams on the rise Sunday evening when the African Children’s Choir came to the First United Methodist Church of Lake Jackson.
A packed house came to hear the children sing songs of praise and worship along with a few traditional ballads about life in Africa. As the children introduced themselves, they also named the future career that keeps them inspired as they study.
If it weren’t for the choir, some of the kids wouldn’t be able to study at all, let alone pursue their dreams.
“I lost my dad at a very young age, and because my mother could not take care of us, my grandfather became a guardian to my siblings and I,” Choir Director Alice Nambooze said. “Due to the huge role he took on, he could not afford to buy me a school uniform, shoes or even a school lunch.”
That changed when African Children’s Choir came. As a child affected by poverty and the loss of a parent, she qualified for auditions. She won a spot in the 19th choir and traveled with them, taking lessons in the evenings from the chaperone/teachers who travel with the group. When she aged out, Music for Life — the group that runs African Children’s Choir — supported her continuing education, and she earned a bachelor’s in business administration.
But it isn’t all study for the choir kids. They’re the voice of Music for Life, and on Sunday that voice soared as they danced, banged on tin cans, clapped their hands and filled the stage with thundering drums. Nambooze and chaperone Timothy Kawuma joined in with crystalline voice and zestful drum beats. Kawuma, too, is a former choir member, now team pastor and head tutor.
“I was raised in a district that was totally devastated by war. And I was raised by a single mother of four children,” he said. “Despite all her hard work, she was unable to provide us with secure shelter, sufficient meals, decent clothing or a quality education. ”
He said joining the choir was the best thing to happen to him after salvation. He toured many countries, learned all he could and earned a bachelor’s degree in business statistics. He hopes to see all the children in his care one day achieve the same heights he has reached. Though they came hungry, poorly clothed and desperate for knowledge, they’re learning a little more every day, as are the kids in Music for Life’s care centers and schools across Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana.
Though the young students are enjoying their trip, they’re eager to get back and start making a difference in their home countries.
“We have heard there are some people here tonight who want to adopt us,” one little boy joked, to a ripple of laughter. “Well, unfortunately you can’t. We want to go home.”
Mary Newport is a features writer for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0149.