Daraja Children's Choir
The Daraja Children's Choir is raising money to build a school in Kenya. ULM biology major Cassidy Horton is traveling with the choir.
What do ULM biology major Cassidy Horton, Bossier City’s Stockwell Place Elementary students, and the Daraja Children’s Choir of Africa have in common? They’re all playing their part in an effort to build a school for children in Ereri, Kenya, in the hopes that education will help alleviate poverty in the region.
The Daraja Choir opened Stockwell Elementary’s annual community service initiative, “Helping Hearts: The Power of We,” on Dec. 5 by singing a selection of Christmas songs in English and Swahili. The boys and girls in the choir,18 of them from Uganda and five from Kenya, then answered questions about life in Africa – amazing students with the number of chores they do on a daily basis and the long distances they have to walk, often an hour or more, in order to attend school in their native countries.
What stands out about the children of the Daraja Choir, however, is not how different their lives are, but how similar the children are to the students at Stockwell. One boy, Moses, told Stockwell students he likes to play soccer and hopes to be a pilot when he grows up. Another, Lucy from Uganda, told students her favorite food is sweet potatoes.
Cassidy Horton, a Stockwell Place alum, is travelling as an intern with the Daraja Choir. She currently plans to go on to medical school after graduating from ULM.
The Daraja Choir’s performance was followed by a week of fundraising by Stockwell’s students, who set a goal to raise $15,000 towards building a new school in Kenya. An anonymous donor agreed to match the students’ funds, with the goal of raising most of the $35,000 it takes to erect a classroom block in Ereri.
The student body as a whole went above and beyond in raising funds for the Ereri school. Three students particularly took the challenge to heart. Kailey Milhearn, Marisa Shepherd and Audrey Smith all donated their birthday money, presenting it during the Daraja Choir’s performance that night at Bossier City’s Northpoint Community Church. The choir also performed at West Monroe’s White’s Ferry Road Church on Dec. 14.
The Daraja Choir will perform at 6 p.m. on Feb. 8 at First United Methodist Church in Bossier City.
By Scott Rutherford