JACKSON TWP.  The African Children’s Choir recently filled the Calvary Chapel in Jackson Township with music, dance and happiness. The group of 18 children between the ages of 8 and 10 performed at the church on Dec. 21. They sang traditional African songs mixed in with contemporary Christian songs in English and traditional holiday music from the U.S.

Music for Life is the parent organization for The African Children’s Choir. They work in seven African countries including Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. Since its founding in 1984, the organization has helped over 52,000 children fund their education.

"The concert here at Calvary Chapel is part of our 11-month tour where the children perform four concerts a week in 12 states," said Kyle Serquinia, tour leader. "All of the kids come from families who can’t afford to pay for their children’s education. In Africa, public education is very expensive. So when we select the children for each tour, they train with us for five months and then tour in America. After the tour, they return home and continue their education and it is paid for through Music for Life."

There are always two tour groups crossing the U.S. at the same time. Serquinia said each group of performers has a teacher tour with them to start the children’s education and to keep it ongoing while they tour. In addition to a teacher, each group has eight adult chaperones.

While on tour, the kids get to experience American culture and visit sites such as amusement parks, swimming pools and the Atlantic Ocean. The kids get to experience playing in a public park for the first time while on tour.

"Most of the children have lived apart from family members most of their young lives because of poverty, illness or famine. Being on tour, they get to experience events such as seeing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. Swimming is a favorite activity because they can’t swim in Africa because the lakes and rivers contain parasites or crocodiles and hippos," Serquinia said.

The African Children’s Choir operates on donation. The groups perform for free and ask for donations. They also take sponsorships. Serquinia said people can sponsor a child for $50 a month which will go directly to the child’s education.

The children took to the stage at Calvary Chapel with plenty of energy and all were wearing big smiles. The audience seemed mesmerized by the kids and the performance. Some of the music directors spoke to the audience about their own experience when they were children and performed in the choir. There was also a video clip about the children and their lives at home and how important being able to pay for education is to them and their future.

The African Children’s Choir has performed before presidents, heads of state and the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II for her diamond jubilee. They have also sung alongside performing artists such as Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Michael W. Smith and others.

The African Children’s Choir is a non-profit humanitarian and relief organization dedicated to helping Africa’s most vulnerable children today so they can help Africa in the future. To find out more information, to donate or to schedule a performance, visit www.africanchildrenschoir.com.