Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."- MLK Jr.

On MLK Day Team North Carolina started the day off with an awareness march through downtown Durham. Durham's Hayti Center (where the team also was for WAD), was the beginning point of the march. After a long wait trying to find a restroom for half of the team, the day began. We joined about 200 people with signs, jackets and a pure excitement for raising awareness about the issues Martin Luther King, Jr. was all about. There was a great mixture of diversity represented through the group. The march was led by a police escort- which was fun! People honked and waved at us as they drove by.

Team NC braving the cool air to march!

One sign of MANY that had quotes from MLK Jr!

The long line of marchers

Crowd gathered to listen to Attorney Larry Hall remarking on the significance of the day. He also spoke about how doing service should be a necessary part of life.

During the march songs were blasting from vocal pipes. One song that made repeated cameo performances was "We shall over come." The march ended at the First Baptist Church. The Church held a special ceremony with several pastors speaking, leading the congregation in remembrance prayers and speeches. There was also a youth choir from the Durham Community that sang several well pitched and well practiced songs about unity, faith and hope. This ceremony we had to leave a few minutes early to trek over to Duke University's campus to watch a special show.

Duke University's Martin Luther King Day Event Planning committee hosted the African Children's Choir. The African Children's Choir is a group of orphaned African children, that have been given the chance at a new life. Before the African Children's Choir performed, a local Durham High School choir regaled us with "We are the World," by a group of artists, and "It's the Climb" by Miley Cyrus. These songs really were perfect fit into the day, and a great way to have our team's thoughts transition from the march to a musical appreciation of love, friendship, and hope

A bit about the Choir's history: The first Choir was formed in 1984, selected from orphaned and vulnerable children in the Kampala and Luwero areas of Uganda. After the Choir was trained to perform and readied for living in new and different cultures, the children traveled from Uganda to tour amongst the North American Church communities. They immediately impressed audiences with their vibrancy and outstanding musical talent. They quickly became a mouthpiece for the plight of the many thousands of vulnerable children like them in Uganda. The funds they earned through donations provided for their own support and education and more!
The proceeds of the first African Children’s Choir tour also funded the building of an orphanage back in Kampala from which a second African Children’s Choir was selected. The proceeds of their tours and the sponsorship support they would attract funded a growing program of establishing literacy schools to enable the very neediest children to get a foot up into proper education.

Meanwhile, the continuing care, education and development of returning Choir children was assured through the proceeds of Choir tours and the generosity of sponsors and donors.
To date over seven hundred vulnerable children have been through the Choir program and the funds they have generated have provided the opportunity of education and hope for many thousands like them in some of the most desperate and needy areas of Africa.

This choir really was inspiring! There was a reception afterwards that promoted more opportunities to get involved with the organization, how to sponsor orphans in Uganda, and had craft tables where the proceeds went to help the children. A few members purchased items from the craft tables. The African Children's Choir was a moving way to end the day. The choir sang songs that were inspirational, and some that were religious. All had thankful messages about being saved and given a new chance at life. Hearing the children speak about what they wished to be when they grew up, really spoke volumes about the chance at a healthy future that these kids have.

The title of this post, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," said by MLK Jr., is really the take home message from our day of remembrance and service. The march was helping promote awareness of equality, unity and peace within the Durham Community, and remembering the past but also helping the community to look to the future. The future is all about the youth within our communities. As we watched the choir, the fact that the youth of all over the world need a chance to be healthy, educated and given a chance to thrive (basic human rights), really was evident. We can not be silent about the way life is for others around the globe, we can not be silent about promoting equality. The African Children's choir is giving youth of Africa the dream of a better tomorrow, a thought and message MLK Jr. said and hoped for all of us.

It was a great day! Team NC must give kudos to Kim for planning an inspirational fifth day! :)

Cheers! Alex

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