Touching hearts by lifting voices

By Jessica Johnson-Petty
November 16, 2011

The Mwamba children's choir performs in the Grace Hall Atrium in front of students and faculty.

The beauty of smiles, chills and tears of joy were brought to those who were blessed by the singing and dancing of the Ugandan Mwamba Children’s Choir.

These children came out with happiness and passion, rejoicing in everything. While they have little to nothing, they have each other and a reason to sing.

It all started with 8-year-old Omega Lwakatale, as she snuck maize and rice to one of her friends whose father died from cholera. This was hard for her father, and pastor in Kampala, Ponsiano Lwakatale to deal with because the family of 15 had 50 kilograms of rice to survive off of for a month.

Vonya Womack, assistant professor of business administration, introduced the choir and continued to tell this story.

When Omega’s father went to go discipline her, Omega asked, “If you beat me for giving to the needy, can you still be a pastor?”

This eye-opening question lead to the establishment of the organization that helps orphans and widows in Kampala and Mwamba. The children’s choir travels the world for a mission.

Most of these children have come from homes that have no parents, a single parent or both parents who could not afford to raise them. For the parents who have passed on, many did so as a result of one of the top three major causes in the land: cholera, malaria or AIDS.

They have found a home in what is not referred to as an orphanage but a “family center.” At the family center, they are provided with food, shelter, clothes and life.

“We believe music is life,” said Enoch, the pianist of the choir.

Mwamba brought life to the air. Having the ability to sing in eight different languages, the choir travels to bring awareness of the existence of orphans and underprivileged children in Uganda.

These children need to go to school and the cost of high school is $18 a month. Insurance for the children’s health services cost $216 a year. The program, which teaches the children about God and faith, cost $15  a month.

“This performance was an eye-opener,” Alana Fazio, sophomore early childhood education major, said. “They were so happy when they hardly have anything. It makes me feel blessed for what I do have.”

Bringing Cabrini Day to a close, Grace, Patience, Lydia, Peace, Baron, Charity, Sam, Susan, Miriam and George were the children who sang with love and joy in their hearts.

“It was touching,” Morgan Williams, freshman communication major, said. “It shows that the simple things like singing and dancing can have people in tears. It’s amazing how strongly they got their message across the way they did.”

As the children closed with their final song “Africa,” the crowd clapped, stood and cried.  There was not a face without a smile or eyes without tears. The hearts of the audience were touched. There will not be a single person who will forget what they felt when they witnessed Mwamba.

Dr. Adeline Bethany, Cabrini's choir director, hosts Barnabus, Esther and Charity who are members of the Mwamba children's choir.
The Mwamba Children’s Chior, consisting of orphans and underprivileged children from Uganda, performed in the Grace Hall Atrium as a part of the college’s annual Cabrini Day celebrations. As the centerpiece of Spirit Week, this year’s theme was Orphans & Vulnerable Children.


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Jessica Johnson-Petty

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