They sure did let it shine, and while this is not the exact performance we saw, it is almost the same...same spirit, same joy, same little lights shinning! It was very bright in the room.
Last week a friend and I went to see an African children's choir. (check out their website). I was moved by the spirit of the children who have been through so much yet were singing their little hearts out joyfully. Their faces shining, their white-toothed smiles surrounded by brown skin making their joy even more evident. They danced enthusiastically in brightly coloured clothing demonstrating and celebrating the traditions of different countries and regions of Africa. Never have I seen such movements, especially in children. The music was beautiful... little hands pounding drums and little voices blending together.
The children range in age from seven to eleven. Most of the children are orphans who have been helped by an organization called Music for Life. They come from all parts of the continent. They are children that may not otherwise have nourishment or life's other basic needs due to circumstances such as AIDS, or civil unrest. These children would have normally lived with few smiles. The organization provides the children with education and life's basic needs, including nurturing. They attend a music camp for several months and if lucky they get to be chosen for the choir. As members of the choir they get to travel to places well beyond their young imaginations. Not only does the choir provide them with opportunities as children though, as they get older the organization provides tuition and training. The objective is to educate some of Africa's most venerable children giving them a chance to give back to Africa. Many of the children go on to become professionals, others choose vocational and technical training , all of which helps Africa in the end because they return to their homeland to work. Sounds like a very good plan. There were many testimonies of adults who have been members of the choir in the past. It was very moving.
As part of the program the children introduced themselves... "My name is Anne or Billy...or whatever and I when I grow up I want to be a ??" It was very cute. Each child said the same line as I quoted above. There were many who wanted to be doctors, lawyers, pilots, one bank manager, a few teachers, and a social workers. So, maybe five or six different career choices. I assumed that recent travel encouraged the high number of "pilot" choices, and that these children really only had exposure to so many careers.
I was particularly moved by one little girl who changed up the line a bit and stated most definitively "My name is Anne and I AM to be a Dr." She believed it and so did I. It made me reflect on the use of language. Perhaps she said it like that on purpose; perhaps she just did not know how else to say it, either way though she made me think about goals and messages we send to ourselves. I now have a note posted near my computer. "I AM to be a novelist". Just trying it out for a while, can't hurt.