By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Email: Click Here
Posted: Jan. 29, 2017 | 12:45 p.m.
MCKENNEY – The world-renown African Children’s Choir was scheduled to make a stop in the small rural town of McKenney, in Dinwiddie County, on Wednesday, January 17, at Sunnyside Elementary School.
Unfortunately, the third snowfall of the season in Southside and Central Virginia made it necessary for the postponement of the performance.
According to Becky Winn, who was instrumental in scheduling the choir’s performance in Southside Virginia/McKenney, “We are now attempting to schedule a performance of the choir for April. I am pretty sure we won’t have to deal with snow for an April performance.”
Winn, a member of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, said “My daughter and I had the opportunity to hear the African Children’s Choir a few years ago, and fell in love with the children and their beautiful smiles and voices. The performance was amazing. Our church here in McKenney has been looking for ways to be more involved in the community. It was brought to my attention that the Choir was on tour, and still had a few available dates for concerts. I made a call to the Music for Life organization, and the rest is history, as they say.”
Things began falling into place for Winn, and the McKenney community came together to make the event possible. Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church began working with Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, and with their help, and with the help of other churches and people in the community, housing was found for all members of the choir, and all aspects of the requirements needed for the performance to take place, were completed.
“We are so proud and thankful that our community came together in making this once-in-a-lifetime performance a reality for McKenney and Southside Virginia. Even though the performance for January 17 was canceled due to the snow, according to the Music for Life organization, it is looking promising that we will be able to secure a performance date in April,” said Winn.
So many people attending performances by the Choir have described it as an experience, rather than a performance. They report that the exquisitely-beautiful voices of the children joined in song bring tears to the eyes, chills to the body, and joy to the soul.
Many report that the children’s beautiful faces, sweet smiles, along with their beautiful voices seemed to be Angelic. In growing up, in Church, and at Christmas, most of us have all heard songs about choirs of Angels singing—singing so beautifully, that it is indescribable. Truly, if anything on this earth compares to the Choirs of Angels, perhaps it is these children. Anything more beautiful than the voices of these sweet children singing, could not be of this earth, and must only exist in Heaven.
Over 30 years ago, Ray Barnett of Vancouver, British Columbia, was on a humanitarian trip to war-torn Uganda, when he gave a small boy a ride from his war-torn village to the safety of another village. During the journey, the child did what he knew how to do best–he sang. That simple song of dignity and hope became the catalyst for a program that has changed the lives of thousands of children and reshaped the future of the African continent.
“When I went back to Canada and people were not very interested in Uganda, I remembered this small boy,” Barnett explained. “I knew that if only a group of these beautiful children could go to the West, that people would be deeply moved and would certainly want to help.”
The first choir brought 31 children to the West, inspired audiences with their stories, and raised enough funds to open the first Children’s Home–a stable environment and quality education for both the choir children and additional children who needed help and care. This success brought about a second choir, and over the next few years, six more homes were established to care for vulnerable children. Additionally, a number of special Literacy schools were established in Uganda, where the children learn to read and write, and gained confidence and skills that continue to ensure a brighter future for so many children.
The organization has helped and continues to help, children from Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Africa, and Rwanda. The goal is to give these children an experience that is life-changing. They are not just singers and dancers in the Choir. The goal is that this experience will enable these children to be free, to hope and to better educate themselves, and to return to uplift the countries from which they come.
The goal has been met and continues to be met. So many of the little boys and girls taken in by the choir and its ministries have gone on to become doctors, nurses, engineers, architects, and many other professions and vocations that could not have even been dreamed of or imagined in the seemingly-hopeless circumstances of their youth. Many of these professionals have returned to their villages of origin to help, serve, and make a true and discernable difference in effecting positive change in the lives of others. The performance of the children is awe-inspiring; but the knowledge of the dignity, change, education, and improved circumstances of each of their lives is extraordinary. This is truly one of those amazing and humbling accomplishments that should inspire all of us in personally doing what we can to make a positive and meaningful difference in the lives of others.
If Becky Winn is again able to secure a date for a performance of the amazing African Children’s Choir in Southside Virginia, McKenney, this time in April, it will be a totally free performance that you and your family will not want to miss.