Looking back at 2018

Dear Friend,

Thanks to your support and God’s provision, 2018 was a monumental year for Music for Life! Together, we made a tremendous impact on the children and communities we serve.

While it’s difficult to quantify our work with mere numbers, we feel it’s important to measure the impact we’re making so we can see the bigger picture and the broader story God is writing through you, our staff, volunteers, church and ministry partners, and the very children we work with.

We hope you’re inspired/encouraged by the impact you’ve helped us make, and that you enjoy reading the experiences of some of the people whose lives you’ve helped changed.
Music for Life 2018
Music for a Life 2018 at a glance

We are Music for Life – the charity that runs the African Children’s Choir and Ubuntu Africa touring programs. In addition to the quality education programs we provide, a significant part our mission is to reach children through our Music for Life outreach programs. These programs provide a spiritual and motivational lifeline for other children in desperate need back in Africa.  

Read more about Music for Life Outreach Programs.

African Children's Choir Primary School
Providing a quality education to the children who have traveled with the African Children’s Choir is one of our highest priorities. This means creating an environment where children not only have access to the best learning tools, but are also allowed to express themselves, think critically and feel safe. We celebrate local culture through music and dance and our faith through daily devotions. The children also reach their neighbors through mercy projects delivering food, acts of service and through prayer.  

Our Primary 7 students took their Uganda national exams in November and will be moving on to high school next year.  We celebrated the graduation of 24 students in 2018. 
ACCPS
African Children's Choir Ronald

In a letter to you, Ronald, who toured with Choir 22 and Young Africans 2, talks about his life in the slum area of Kisumu, Uganda, before tour. He discusses losing his father and the detrimental effect it had on his mother and five siblings, and details the “profound impact” the choir had on his life, leading to Ronald graduating with a First-Class Honors in Telecommunications and Information Technology from Kenyatta University in 2018. 

Read Ronald’s empowering words here.

Ubuntu Africa took Australia by storm during a three-month tour from Melbourne to Brisbane. The performances moved people to standing ovations in almost every location and the Choir members and team made a massive impact on Australian communities. 

A few years ago African Children’s Choir creatives, Choir Director, Barbara Serungoji, Technical Director, Andrew Stanley and International Director of Choir Operations, Julia Barnett-Tracy brainstormed about producing a new album and touring show for the Choir. The result was a merging of two worlds, infusing traditional Western Hymns with the vibrant musical style of Uganda.

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Empower International Academy

The construction of phase I of our Empower International Academy is complete! This secondary level school will bring an international standard Christian education to members of the African Children’s Choir and beyond. Please pray with us as we continue to develop the campus and search for the best people to lead our education, discipleship and leadership programs. The school will open to students in February 2020. We would like to thank Engineering Ministries International, USAID ASHA, Living Water International, Ecclesia Church and Empower African Children for support and partnership on this project. 

In 2018 the children featured in the Bernstein Mass, performed at the Long Center in Austin, TX. This epic work, directed by Maestro Peter Bay of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, was organized to celebrate the 100th birthday of the late composer Leonard Bernstein. The African Children’s Choir learned liturgical passages in Latin and joined over 300 performers including the Austin Children’s Choir, Ballet Austin, Conspirare, Ballet Austin and the Austin Symphony Orchestra for two sold out concerts. The experience was a tour highlight for the children, and they warmed the hearts of thousands of audience members. 

With our heartfelt gratitude, we thank you for continuing to be part of the Music for Life family.

Blessings,
Scott Lambie
Director of Development

Between Friends – March

Battling the cycle of poverty is a dynamic challenge, a challenge that requires long-term commitment, investment and consistency amidst harsh environments. It requires overcoming many obstacles and an unwavering faith that God will continue to guide, provide and lead us to His plan in our lives. Each year we celebrate our university graduates. This year we are highlighting young women who have overcome their circumstances to achieve milestones that are statistically stacked against them. Please meet some of our 2017 university graduates:

 

Shirley
Nkomazi Choir

Shirley graduated with a diploma in clinical engineering from Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria and is now employed at a medical technology company in Johannesburg.

 

 

 

 

 

Linnet
Choir 21

After graduating High School, she toured with the first Young Africans, after which she returned back home and joined Makerere University. She is now a graduate with a degree in music, dance, and drama, as a dance major. Linnet also toured with Choir 47 as the choir conductor.

 

 

 

 

Patricia
Choir 19

Patricia graduated from Kyambogo University with a degree in social work and community development. As a social worker, she hopes to work with disadvantaged children, to help them make the best choices in life. Patricia is forever grateful for the work of the African Children’s Choir.

 

 

 

Sandra
Choir 19

Sandra graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from Makerere University. She can’t wait to make the world a better place with her journalism skills.

 

 

 

 

 

Vanessa
Nkomazi Choir

Vanessa attended her graduation with friends and family as she received a diploma in human resource management. Vanessa has been working in the Nelspruit Municipality HR department since her placement as part of her course.

 

 

 

 

Deborah
Choir 21

Deborah graduated with a degree in ethics and human rights from Makerere University. She is very excited to make the world a better place.

 

 

 

 

 

Eveline
Choir 22

Eveline graduated with a degree in environmental science from Egerton University, Kenya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robinah
Choir 24

Robinah graduated with a degree in development economics from Makerere University. She hopes to pursue a successful career as an economist or accountant.

 

 

 

 

 

Priscilla
Choir 23

Priscilla graduated with a degree in international relations Uganda Christian University. She hopes to become the force of change in Uganda’s governance system someday.

 

 

 

 

 

Naomi
Choir 21

Naomi graduated with a degree in information technology and business computing from Makerere University Business School. Naomi will also be graduating with top honors, with a CGPA of 4.68 (The best grade being a CGPA of 5).

 

 

 

 

 

Justine
Choir 21

Justine graduated with a degree in ethics and human rights from Makerere University. Justine hopes to reach out to her community through humanitarian work, advocating for children’s rights here in Uganda, so that they too can have their rights fulfilled such as a right to having an education and also living a life free of violence.

 

 

 

Joyce
Choir 23

Joyce graduated with a degree in tourism from Makerere University.“Through the Choir, I got a loving big family and friends who have always loved and supported me in everything I do.”

 

 

 

 

 

Esther
Choir 23

Esther graduated with a certificate in midwifery from Nsambya Hospital Training School. Esther is also working with the African Children’s Choir as the school nurse.

 

 

 

 

 

Allen
Choir 21

Allen graduated with a certificate in clinical medicine and community health from International Health Sciences University, Uganda. She says she cannot wait to make the difference in her country through serving in the health sector.

 

 

 

 

Grace
Choir 24

Grace graduated with an advanced diploma in information systems from Akilah Institute in Kigali, Rwanda. Grace says she feels empowered by her education to focus on building customized web applications for business. Grace also enjoys volunteering with Music for Life outreach programs in Rwanda.

 

 

 

 

Empower International Academy

Empower International Academy

In December 2016 we broke ground on Empower International Academy. The project seemed quite impossible a few years ago when it was nothing but an idea on spreadsheets and a few structural drawings. The purpose of the project was to deliver an international standard, Christian-character focused education program to the next generation of African Children’s Choir members and beyond.

It was a big leap of faith to move forward with our plans and there were plenty of potential risks, delays, and discouragements. We are a relatively small organization and to pull this off we would need plenty of help. We partnered with Empower African Children, an organization with a similar vision and like-minded team. Engineering Ministries International came on board to draw up plans and manage construction, Living Water International and Ecclesia Church secured a clean water supply. Kwaya Australia and some very generous friends caught the vision and have supported the project financially. We are so grateful to God for the amazing work and people He has brought together to pursue this dream.

Now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We expect the construction of phase I to be complete in May with high-quality structures in place and finances managed to budget. Our education consultant has lent international Christian education expertise to the framework of the curriculum, policies and staffing needs and we are confident that our first students will begin classes in February of 2019.

We would like to thank everyone who has been a part of getting this project this far. Please enjoy a few photos from the ongoing construction of the school. God is faithful!

We would like to thank everyone who has been a part of getting this project this far. We have just a few more needs to complete this project, please click here for more information. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MFL Development Center Update

Child from Music for Life Literacy Centre

Child from our Music for Life Literacy Center

Our mission to help the vulnerable children of Africa goes beyond supporting and educating the children of the Choir program. We have also established various relief and education projects across the continent that help 1,000’s of suffering children every year.

Projects such as our Music for Life Centers, which operate across Uganda and Kenya, offering in-need children a place to go once a week after school to receive life skills training, dance and music lessons, and most importantly for some, a meal or snack. For many of these children Music for Life Centers, which cater for up to 50 children per week, offer a safe environment for them to escape to, to just be children.

We are extremely proud of the support our centers offer local children, but we would like to do more…

For children fortunate enough to receive a primary school education, many arrive with little or no basic skills or ability in numeracy or literacy, making concentration and progression difficult.

We would like to tackle this by introducing Music for Life Development Centers, focused on preparing children for primary education by offering the most vulnerable children of Africa the opportunity of a pre-school education. With this social and educational advantage children will be more likely to succeed at primary school, giving them a better chance at their higher education and beyond.

Writing numbers at Music for Life literacy centre

Writing numbers at the Music for Life Literacy Center

As with our established Music for Life Centers the development centers will offer children a warm, encouraging and friendly environment in which they can play, learn and explore whilst receiving a quality pre-school education  – a place where they can escape their lives surrounded by hardship, AIDS and suffering.

Singing Lesson Music for Life Literacy Centre

Singing lesson

The first Music for Life Development Center opened on August 13th 2012 in Refengkgotso, South Africa, with 20 children aged between 4-6 years in attendance for daily lessons.

Since starting at the center, the children are now able to name the parts of the body, count to 20, follow simple instructions, identify simple pictures and shapes, say the days of the week and the months of the year, say the Lord’s Prayer and sing several songs, all in English – a vast improvement for a group of children who arrived with no basic learning of any literacy or numeracy.

The children are provided with a meal at the center as well as the skills needed to give them the best start to their state education, both academically and socially.

We would like to create more Music for Life Development Centers across Africa. With your help, we can emulate the same success of our Music for Life Centers but for pre-school aged children, giving them the start they deserve to become ChangeMakers for the future of Africa.

If you would like to help support us with this Music for Life Development Center and our other relief and education projects across Africa please donate today.

 

 

 

 

A Director's Blog – Uganda

African Children’s Choir Primary School

There are roughly 25 staff members at the African Children’s Choir Primary School, including teachers, dorm parents, a nurse, cooks, and guards/gardeners. Our visit was a good time to truly appreciate the incredible job they all do, evident in the Primary 7 exam results each year, and the general atmosphere at the school.

The students have a feeling of seriousness toward their studies, a joyfulness, and an appreciation for the opportunity to be in such a school. It was great to see the students in class, walking quietly from class to class, enjoying their lunch, playing soccer and generally moving through their usual school day.

The campus is beautiful. The grass is growing, flowers are blooming, buildings have been painted inside and out, and there is a lovely mural on the front wall of the classroom block.

The last Sunday that Sally and I were in Uganda, we joined the 140 students for their Sunday morning worship service. The P3 class led the singing – altogether it was six African Children’s Choirs lifting their voices in worship, clapping and singing with all their hearts.

Choir Alumni

That same Sunday afternoon Sally and I visited the homes of some of our grown-up Choir alumni. Our first stop was the home of Jessica and Christopher Katumba. Jessica is one of the oldest of our first Choir young people. She has been married to Christopher, a former chaperone from ACC4 for approximately 10 years. In between working full time, raising a family of four boys, and being active in church, Jessica has pursued her Master’s Degree in Counselling.

What a pleasure it was to visit the home they have built over the years – literally brick by brick – with their four darling boys.

After we left the Katumbas, we drove a short way to Barnett and Diana Twesigonmwe’s new house. Just across the road from them is Barbara Kayaga’s home, where she lives with her two adopted sons.

Director's Report From Kenya

Music for Life director Alex Palmer and I took the same flight from Uganda to Kenya. I was pleased to see the base/office. It is quite able to host a visiting team or a group of children! There are four bedrooms and three bathrooms in a nice area.

Green Gardens Primary School

Mwai, David, Jerusha, and I paid a visit to Green Gardens Primary School, home to 22 former Choir members. In lieu of having our own African Children’s Choir Primary School in Kenya, our relationship with this excellent school is the next best thing.

The campus is beautiful; well named as the gardens around the school are lovely. The school is owned by Dr. and Mrs. Keiyoro and they love having ACC alumni at their school.

We were provided with a very nice conference room, complete with large conference table and chairs. It was a perfect place to have special Choir family time. The children were excited to see us and to tell us about their school activities and achievements. They all appear happy and healthy and there were many hugs all around. We had an excellent visit together! The children were very pleased to show us around the campus, particularly the swimming pool.

Music for Life Centers

Mwai and I joined Jerusha, Mary Mwikali and Stephen Kiringo (ACC15) at the Music for Life Center session at Grace Care Children’s Home. There were approximately 50 children present, with a number of children looking in the window from the outside.

There is a second Music for Life Center on Mondays at Kicoshep School in the heart of the Kibera slum. Approximately 50 children attend that session as well.

The schools really appreciate the Music for Life Center after-school program. They have continuously said how valuable the program is. Teachers comment that most of the students who attend the Music for Life Center activities are more outgoing and answer questions in class. Their self-esteem has been raised since joining the program.

Choir Alumni

What a true highlight it was to visit four of our Alumni in their places of employment! Mwai and I first drove to the more upper-class section of Nairobi to a beautiful shopping mall. There we met up with Pamela Aketch (ACC8). Pamela is a sales representative at Palacina Interiors, an absolutely stunning interior design store. It was impressive to see Pamela; what a capable, sharp young woman. I couldn’t have been more proud!

Ben Waweru (ACC8) also works in the mall. Ben formerly worked at the famous Carnivore but has been transferred to this very classy restaurant, Tamambos where he is the main chef. This job gives Ben much more room for creativity in preparing menus, etc, and he really loves it!

After visiting Pamela and Ben we met with Beth Atieno, a former Choir member who also toured as a chaperone. Beth is now teaching at a private school in Kenya. I was so impressed with her classroom, it was evident that she takes her teaching seriously and really connects with her students.

Last but not least, we drove to a very new and modern office building in the heart of Nairobi where Mark Masaai (ACC10) now works. Mark is on staff at CCTV Main China Corporation TV Channel.

Mark introduced us to every member of staff, close to 50 people, proudly telling them that Mwai and I were the people who raised him from the time he was seven years old (as representatives of his ACC family. I was really touched by that, knowing that some of our young people have been embarrassed for folks to know they are orphans. This job is a huge step up in prestige for Mark; he loves his job and really appreciates the tools he has been given to enable him to have such an opportunity.

Student Ministries


Once again a highly anticipated team from Mennonite Educational Institute (MEI) in Abbotsford, British Columbia made its way to the African Children’s Choir Primary School for a little over a week.

It was a great time for the ACCPS students as they learned more about Canada – the favorite animal was none other than the polar bear – and had fun participating in new games and crafts. The week was topped off with a nice huge mango for all the students on the afternoon they said their goodbyes.

The MEI team brought many smiles to all the students, but as the time together came to an end, it was interesting to see how the students who came to reach out, were in many ways the ones being ministered too. The MEI crew left challenged to make a difference and improve their surroundings back in North America. It was encouraging to see the bond that had been created in this short time and a twinkle in the eye of the administrators to know that the students at the African Children’s Choir Primary School are not only making a difference when they were performing all over the world but also while they are at home in Africa.

A Bird's Eye View

ACCPS P7 Results

Once again, P7 students at the African Children’s Choir Primary School, in Entebbe Uganda, have recorded outstanding results in their national school-leaving exams!

Twenty-nine students wrote the exams in November. Competition is fierce as students compete for top results to enter good secondary schools.

Marking takes a long time as there are over 10,000 exam centers in Uganda where multiple schools can write at each exam center. Graders are kept in an enclosed facility and are even required to give up their phones during the 3 to 4-week marking period.

There are a total of four main divisions that begin at the top with one and work down to division four. National schools results are based on the percentage of division one grades.

Of the 29 ACCPS children who wrote the exam 24 achieved a first-class pass. These are excellent results by any measure, however, they are made so much more outstanding when one considers the adverse family situations that these children come from as well as the relatively late academic start they had before they were admitted into the African Children’s Choir program.

Please continue to pray for these children as they enter secondary school and start a new chapter of their lives that will present them with new challenges to overcome.