The youths of the Amani Children’s Choir from Uganda had a whirlwind tour of Calaveras County on Oct. 27 and 29 as they spread the word of God through song and dance at area churches, parks and schools.
On Oct. 27, the group performed for the students, staff and family members at Foothill Community Church outside Angels Camp.
“It was awesome,” exclaimed Sage Kelsey, 11. “It really touched me.”
“I liked the dancing,” said Allysan Lee, 6, who said she hopes to learn to dance like those with the choir.
Each year, the Amani Children’s Choir travels from Uganda to America on a seven-month tour of the United States, singing and dancing their way across the nation bringing awareness of the needs of the children of Africa.
Beatrice Nalugya, who at 10 is the youngest in the troupe, danced front and center throughout much of the performance with energy and joy, her smile brightening as she sang, “Let us come together as one people in love.”
“We are a family,” explained James Teira, the youth pastor.
Each child in the choir is a member of the Kampala Community Sunday School and is sponsored by Light Africa ministries.
Many of the children come from broken homes or live in boarding houses, while others have experienced homelessness. No matter their socioeconomic backgrounds, Tiera welcomes all, creating a warm family for the youths.
A few of the choir members told of their experiences receiving shoeboxes through the Operation Christmas Child program and the life changing effect the gifts had on them.
“I was only 8 years old when I received my first shoebox,” recalled Joan. “It affected my life. There was soap, a scarf, a letter and gifts; but the letter meant a lot to me and the words affected me. (Operation Christmas Child) is changing lives in Africa.”
One young girl told of her first experience with a shoebox and the joy she had in tasting candy from America and looking forward to going to church the following Sunday to get another box with some candy inside. Though she did not receive another box that year, she did continue to attend church.
Though the songs were sung in their native language, the dancing transcended cultural and language barriers with many of the children and adults dancing near their seats.
At the end of the program, some children were selected to attempt the more difficult dance performed with a traditional cow hide and dyed fiber skirt, to much laughter from attendees.
When asked about the differences in nations, Tiera explained simply that “It is summer all year round. We have no fall, spring or winter.”
Each day the Ugandan youngsters devote time to studies with the students’ mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs met on a daily basis.
Uganda Light Africa ministries offers education in a Christian setting to more than 800 youths in the community as well as helping families there become independent by teaching them skills to be entrepreneurs and building dormitories for girls and boys who have no homes.