It was an overcast Sunday afternoon in Birmingham, Alabama with one exception – the Alys Stephens Center. The bright faces of the talented children of the African Children’s Choir might as well have been that of the sun. Nineteen children from Uganda performed for almost two hours yesterday to an appreciative crowd that ranged in age from infants t0 our most senior of citizens. This particular choir is one of the 35 African Children’s Choirs touring the globe and changing the lives of this world’s most vulnerable children. Moms, you must find an opportunity to enjoy this beautiful performance with your family.
The performance alone is beautiful. The strong rhythm of the drums combined with intense dancing and beautiful voices captivated all of us. A 4-yr old near us immediately turned around and stated loudly, “I like this!” That child was entranced for the next 1.5 hours. The children introduced and performed songs native to Africa but also familiar hymns like He’s Got The Whole Worlds In His Hands and This Little Light of Mine.
The members of this choir ranged in age from 8 years old to about 14 years (I think) and all come from tragic backgrounds. Many of the children are orphans or come from desperately poor families that could not care for them. In every case, they are now sponsored by a foundation called Music for Life that uses the proceeds from performances to run 35 schools and care for 8,000 children in Africa.
Watching those 19 bright faces dance and sing across the stage, I could not help but think of the 19 mothers who love them. I know, in my heart, that all mothers throughout the world, regardless of country or economic status, love their children intensely. I thought of the African Mom that loves that child from heaven but also the African Mom that loved her child so much that she let him or her go in order to lead a better life. It’s impossible to imagine and made me yearn for a world where we could adequately mother all children. For a short 1.5 hours, the world felt smaller and it seemed that in a small way, through tickets sales and the purchase of CDs, the ‘village’ that we call Birmingham embraced these children and the many faces they represent.
At the conclusion of the performance, the children introduced themselves and stated what they want to be when they grow up. We saw future engineers, pilots, social workers, artists and dancers. Among them, a young boy asserted that he wanted to be a president and a young girl named Eunice said she wanted to be a vice president. To Eunice, I say, “You too should be a president.” That’s what her mother would tell her.