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By Ryan Ostry
Staff Reporter 

Local church hosts African Children's Choir concert

 

Last updated 10/9/2019 at 3:51pm

Ryan Ostry

Children perform at Downers Grove church.

In sub-Saharan Africa, education opportunities are the highest rates of educational exclusion in the world.

More than one-fifth of children between the ages of seven and 11 and one-third between the ages of 12 and 14 are not educated.

Almost 60 percent of children in sub-Saharan Africa between the ages of 15 and 17 are also not educated.

While traveling from Uganda to Downers Grove, members of the impoverished country are trying to do something about those numbers.

A group of children from ages seven to 10, known as the African Children's Choir, brought their talents to the First United Methodist Church.

"The choir basically helps Africa's most vulnerable children," said choir director Paul Maina Kibutha. "It helps them with their education and helps them be able to go on in life."

With a primary focus on education and a means for change within the country, the Choir is currently caring for underprivileged and poverty-stricken children throughout Africa.

Though Kibutha said a lot of the children have not had a great card dealt to them so far in life, the Choir brings happiness to the children, as well as their families and country.

"These kids from the most poor parts in Africa such as Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria," Kibutha said. "Being in this Choir brings great joy to our country and helps in so many ways, especially financially."

Since being founded in 1984, the popular Choir is celebrating its 50th choir tour. While performing all over the world for audiences, the funds that are raised go back to the Choir, the children's education and administrative costs.

"About 85 percent of the funds go back to support the children throughout their education," Kibutha said. "The rest goes back for administrative purposes so we can travel and try and raise money for the group."

Not only does the choir travel to the United States, but also to the United Kingdom and Canada.

The talented choir group usually is on tour for nine months, while rotating different choirs each time the group gets back to Uganda.

The African Children's Choir, through Music for Life, has educated more than 52,000 children in several countries in Africa, with hundreds of lives being affected because of the group.

In order to keep traveling and performing around the world while receiving funds benefitting the children and their education, Kibutha said that the performances always have to be at a high peak, which comes through a lot of practice.

"Every day we practice after school for two hours," Kibutha said. "It's a lot of work but we want to be able to represent Africa in a good way whenever we travel."

Specifically, for this trip to Downers Grove, Kibutha said that with layovers it was around a 27-hour trip, but it's all worth it when they're performing.

"It was a long trip but we love performing for the people," Kibutha said. "We always want to do best by Africa and we enjoy coming to the United States."

 

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