Uganda choir member Michael Munyigwa, is pictured with his host family during the choir’s stay in Henry County, (from left) Heather Smith, Joey Smith, Patrick Smith, 11, and Harrison Smith, 14.
McDONOUGH — Some youngsters are working to make a difference in their homeland.
The Ugandan Thunder African Children’s Choir is touring the United States — including the Southern Crescent — to raise money for orphans in Uganda.
The choir is composed of 22 children — 15 girls and seven boys. The singers and dancers range in ages from 10-14. They are students from the Royal School and Orphanage in Mityana, Uganda.
The Ugandan choir tour started Aug. 1, and will continue through June 29, 2013.
“This is our seventh year touring in the United States,” said Melinda Fowler. “It has mainly been in the Southeastern parts of the United States. However, this year we are going as far north as Washington state.”
Fowler is the road manager for the choir’s U.S. tour, and is an assistant for the non-profit “Pennies for Posho” ministry.
“Our ministry has 11 orphanages with over 5,000 children that we help,” said Fowler. “The choir tours to raise money to help feed the children.”
In the Southern Crescent area, the choir is scheduled to appear at Pinecrest Baptist Church, Bethany Baptist Church and Open Range Church in McDonough. In Locust Grove, the choir will sing at Strong Rock Christian School and First Baptist Church of Locust Grove, and at the Zion Baptist Church in Hampton. Also, they will perform at the New Macedonia Baptist Church in Jackson for the Jackson-Butts County Rotary Club and in Griffin at County Line United Methodist Church.
Donations are collected during the choir concerts as love offerings.
“We use that money to buy posho,” said Fowler. “Posho is the mainstay they eat in Uganda, twice a day.”
Posho, made of cornmeal, can be made into a paste or porridge for the orphans, according to Fowler.
Fowler said Uganda has a large number of orphans because of various infections.
“AIDS has pretty much wiped out an entire generation of parents, and malaria is very common in Uganda,” she explained. “Malaria is an infection carried by mosquitos, if bitten the infection is passed on to the person.”
According to Fowler, the expenses to cover the cost of the tour are paid for in two ways.
“When we are on the road, we stay in host homes, the various churches provide families willing to take some of the choir members into their homes,” explained Fowler. “Hosting the choir members sometimes, is the greater blessing for the choir members and host families, because they get to be one-on-one with the children. Another way we cover expenses, is that we set up an art and crafts display of items created by the villagers in Uganda. The proceeds from that pays for diesel fuel for the tour bus, and other expenses from the tour.”
Henry County Police Sgt. Joey Smith and his family serve as a host home for The Tribe church in the Sunnyside community.
Smith and his wife, Heather, along with their sons Harrison, 14, and Patrick, 11, welcomed an 11-year-old choir member, Micheal Munyigwa, into their home.
“This is the first time we have ever served as a host family,” said Heather Smith. “Micheal is a singer and dancer with the choir.”
Munyigwa, and the choir, are on tour in Mississippi.
“He has been with us for two nights,” Heather Smith said. “We discussed one his favorite sports, football, which is soccer to them, and we discussed his family. He has one brother, Brian, 10, and a younger sister Jackie, 7.”
She said her sons “thoroughly enjoyed” meeting Uganda choir members.
“Micheal came out of his shell when they went swimming,” she continued. “They [the children] played basketball, and rode in a paddleboat at my parents house, Linda and Darrell Floyd, in Hampton. It is such a joyful experience to have Micheal with us,” she added. “He has truly been a blessing, and we look forward to having him stay with us when he is in town over the year.”
To make donations to the Uganda Choir “Pennies for Posho” mail the funds to 1289 McKinley Road, Zebulon, Ga. 30295. For more information on the 2012 Ugandan Thunder African Children’s Choir tour, call (770) 584-5992.