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September 24, 2015 8:15 AM

Lynne Dobson Photo The African Children's Choir is performing at Southridge Community Church on Sept. 27.

Eighteen Ugandan children are crossing North America, singing traditional gospel and faith-based songs and raising money to fund their education.

These are the members of the African Children’s Choir, an organization founded over 30 years ago by a Canadian humanitarian working in Uganda. During that time, the group says it has provided schooling for 52,000 children and its relief programs have helped more than 100,000 people.

The African Children’s Choir will be performing at Southridge Community Church on Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. This is the current lineup’s first tour.

“The Canadian tour has been amazing. We’ve had such a positive response form all audiences and pretty much since we came at the end of May every venue that we’ve been at has been standing room only,” tour chaperone Emily Gronow said.

“A lot of the audience is just captivated by these children and always want to know more, the background and also how they can get involved. So it’s been great to see that and really positive for the children to have such a great response.”

The children started the tour in North Carolina in February and have been travelling the continent by bus. The group’s six chaperones are making sure the young singers keep up with their studies on the road, including taking exams. But the choir is also learning about North American culture, spending time watching the Canada roll by.

“They love being on the bus, they love discovering new things they love just looking out at the land and in the cities as well when we travel through there. The high buildings and the busy people, the cars, even the traffic lights,” she said.

“They’re so inquisitive about everything and just the smallest things that we would take for granted they want to know everything about.”

The scope of the tour goes beyond those in the choir. While the group is in Canada, Gronow says there are around 8,000 children back in Uganda who are able to afford schooling through the fundraising efforts of the choir.

“Even if we’ve only got 18 children, the impact that (the tour) that has on them enables them to get an education, which is just crucial for where they are and for their confidence so they can go back to their communities and help their friends and families,” she said.

“They are being that ripple effect.”

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