Ugandan youth choir performs for West Bainbridge students

Published 6:52 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2015


The Ugandan Choir smiles as manager Rob Allred reads them questions
written by West Bainbridge students. — Powell Cobb


Eighteen young Ugandans stood in front of the student body at West Bainbridge Elementary School Monday in the gymnasium.

Although they appeared timid at first, as soon as they began passing a microphone to declare their names, their confidence and love for song and dance shined brilliantly.

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The Daraja Children’s Choir filled the gym with harmonies and dance dedicated to God. Students, faculty and staff clapped to the rhythm of the melodies and cheered after each song.

Daraja is Swahili for bridge, and building one between the youth choir and their audience is just one of the many reasons behind the group’s name.

“We are able to share their culture and experience with churches and schools we never would otherwise,” Rob Allred said, manager for the Daraja Children’s Choir said. “We really get to be that bridge.”

Allred works for 410 Bridge based in Alpharetta, Georgia. The organizations goal is to find a freshly innovation take on the concept of missions and healthy community developments.

Allred, the Daraja Choir and other adult chaperones have been traveling around the U.S. since the first weekend in October 2014.

Now they are on the last leg of their tour, and when WBES music teacher Bill Dixon heard they would be in the area, he decided it would be a treat for the students to experience such a unique performance.

“We really get to disciple these kids to be followers of Christ and specifically improve their education,” Allred said. “The amount of time we get to spend and focus and help these kids become leaders is so much more than we would, even if we were to go over there and do a six-month program.”

While traveling, the choir stays with host families. Living with these hosts often has positive improvements on both the Ugandan Children and the families that are opening their homes to them, further cementing the bridge metaphor.

“We stay with host families, and the transformation we see in their lives—it’s amazing,” Allred said. “The stories that we have from past kids that have been through the program and how they have completely excelled in their grades—they have spiritually transformed, improved confidence. And also the stories on this side of the bridge, the transformations in families’ lives.”

The Ugandan children also had a chance to share some aspects about their lives in Africa and what it’s been like traveling the U.S. One young boy named Moses said his favorite thing about the U.S. was American Football. Another girl explained in Uganda there are no weekends for school, classrooms have dirt floors and children walk to and from every day.

“It was just a privilege to have Daraja here today,” WBES principal Jamie Ard said. “It was a moving experience for me. It lets you know how lucky we are. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for me, and the kids as well, to have an international group come over and share not just beautiful music, but another culture.”