Monday, February 20, 2012

Chicago Children's Choir

One girl told me about this performance: "I have never been nervous before a show before, but I was scared about this performance. I heard the choirs singing and I thought oh my God, can WE be that good?"

Yes, it's true: Chicago Children's Choir is unbelievably talented. Several of their small choirs performed to great amazement on our part. However, our kids had nothing to fear - at the end of their segment they received a standing ovation too.

At the end of the performance we sang three songs together in a massive choir. Our children learned the flips and turns of Appalachian vocal styles, and everyone loved this new song.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


All of our dance troupe members have sacrificed a lot of time and energy to make this tour happen, but two in particular have gone above and beyond. Robert (our Artistic Director) and Jane (Lead Performer) both missed their University graduations in order to be with us on the 2012 Tour. Jane's was yesterday, and a couple of people managed to sneak a big surprise party past her watchful eyes. She was totally surprised when they brought out cake, and a cap and gown, and began making speeches in her honor.

All we can say is -- thank you SO much Jane, we are SO proud of you, and congratulations!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fire Station Free Day

Children of Uganda spent Sunday at Leonia Presbyterian Church in New Jersey. After a great church service we enjoyed lunch with the community, and then two church members took us on a tour of the local fire station! Great fun was had by all...

Winnie's perspective

Hello, my name is Winnie Kembabazi. I am ten years old. I am enjoying Children of Uganda Tour of Light. My favorite food is pizza. These are pictures I took in New York City. I like taking pictures! There was a model and she said that I could take a picture. Thank you bye, bye.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

DC fun

Lead performers also turned into lead videographers and interviewers on this fun video about their time in DC! Great thanks to our chaperon Lauren Parran for editing the video.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kennedy Center Live Broadcast

Can't make it to our FREE Tour of Light performance at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage this Saturday, January 28th at 6 p.m. EST?  Then you can watch us broadcasted live by clicking here: 

Winnie Kembabazi, our youngest performer, puts on a show at St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Pat Davies).  Check out our TOUR SCHEDULE page (click the tab above) for more detailed information on East Coast performance dates and times.

Spotlight on Los Angeles

Children of Uganda's Tour of Light troupe arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday, January 17th where they enjoyed a bite to eat at Chipotle (thank you to our sponsor Chipotle for providing 2 free meals per city on our tour!).

Wednesday, our children led student workshops and performed at Milken Community High School in LA.  Later that day, they performed before a full crowd at Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City.  The children were so well received by the community, that Agape invited us to return on Sunday, January 22nd for their 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. services.  Here's what some audience members had to say on our Facebook page:

"I was so moved by the presentation at Agape yesterday!  All the performers showed strength and grace.  Peace and blessings to COU!"

"I thank you Agape International Spiritual Center for sharing with the community these outstanding talented dancers and musicians.  Blessings in the adventure ahead and much success.  Peace, love and light!"

"Thank you Children of Uganda!  I saw your performance last night at Agape (live stream).  OUTSTANDING!!!!"

"My wife and I saw you dancing and drumming at Agape and were mesmerized by your beauty and energy.  Thank you for your light!"

On January 19th, the Tour of Light troupe also made their first television appearance on Fox Good Day LA where they shined on screen!  You can view their performance and interview via the link below.

Also on January 19th, the children visited Palisades Charter High School in Pacific Palisades were they led in-school workshops and performed.  Friday, January 20th, the troupe spent a full day at Millikan Middle School and Performing Arts Magnet in Sherman Oaks.  They received a warm welcome from the student body and held their first full 90 minute performance at 7:30 p.m.

In-between a jam-packed schedule, the troupe found time to relax and have fun at Universal Studios and on the shores of Santa Monica Beach.  For the majority of our kids, this was their first experience seeing and playing in the ocean.

The journey of a lifetime continues...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Performance at Montclair Presbyterian Church

We've had a lot of exciting performances, but Montclair Presbyterian (in Oakland) had the excitement of a home game since all our homestay hosts and volunteers were there - plus the Ugandan community came out to support us! The place was packed, with people all but hanging from the rafters.

Some pictures from 2012 Tour Planning Team member Cassia Burke...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Children of Uganda's first show

     I write this as we travel home from Ukiah, a 2+ hour drive through wine country and rolling hills.

     Ukiah? What's in Ukiah? (my first thoughts…)

     What is in Ukiah, as it turns out, is an amazing Buddhist center (City of Ten Thousand Buddhas) including a K-12 day and boarding school, some university students, monks, nuns, organic farm, meditation center and restaurant. One of their high school students has been raising money for Children of Uganda, through Rotary club and other sources. So we decided to make a trip up to see them… one of the best decisions ever made!

     We were enthusiastically greeted by a gaggle of uniformed high school girls, and soon introduced to a Ugandan Buddhist Monk who took the COU children on a lecture-tour of the center. He brought them into the Buddha hall and oriented them to the meanings of various statues and paintings, drawing comparisons to Christ very frequently, and with a casualness that surprised our children. They were also surprised to find out that some people were Christian Buddhists. One girl remarked - "in Uganda I could never go into a place like this, it would be seen as totally wrong. But here I can visit and learn about it with no problem." The children participated in meditation as well. We hope all of them have learned something about religious tolerance and even about respectful interfaith dialogue!

     After lunch we set up for the performance, but soon we were invited to sit down in front row seats while THEY performed for US. We saw several different dances including the Lion dance and Dragon dance, and Taiwanese drumming as well. The audience of about 500 packed into the room, stood by the walls, sat on the floor, and made a lot of very appreciative noise. At some points it sounded more like a basketball game than a dance performance from the way they whooped and whistled. Children of Uganda performed after the intermission and I couldn't imagine a more supportive audience. At the end the COU kids were each given gift baskets, hand-written cards from kindergarteners (with greetings in Luganda!), and roses. By the time we loaded our things back onto the bus they'd laden us down with boxes of snacks, blankets, jackets, sweaters, and I don't even know what else. Their students came onto our bus for a final goodbye and I do believe I saw some tears as they exchanged hugs.

     We're headed home now to our homestay families, most of whom have lamented how little time they get to spend with their guests. We've reconfigured the schedule to allow them another meal together on Thursday and a free day with no commitments but recreation on Saturday. This morning we left at 7 AM, no one's favorite time, but my host family's twin 10-year-olds stumbled sleepy-headed out to the breakfast table so they could get some extra time with their guests.

     On Children of Uganda's 2006 tour we went to big professional theaters and stayed in hotels. I will admit that a theater *might* make us twice as much money as a school, and that when you stay in hotels you are subject to no one's lateness but your own. But in my personal opinion, that money couldn't possibly be worth as much as the bedheaded good-mornings and tearful good-byes.

Pictures and video to come soon!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Getting ready for tour

There are so many things to do to get ready for tour. Here in Uganda we are feverishly working, to make sure everything gets done in time for our Saturday departure. Last night we weighed our luggage trying to avoid over-weight luggage fees at the airport. Tomorrow is our show at the national theater. Not to mention rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing!
Here are some pictures of the various activities we've been through while we get ready.

Girls wear beads on their necks, waists, and wrists. Each is responsible for making her own set.

Boys wear headdresses for the Ntoore dance; they are each responsible for sewing beads on to decorate the headdresses.

By now we are rehearsing with a sound system, but last week Winnie was practicing her solo with a make-believe microphone.

All the girls had to have their hair braided -- some for the first time ever!

Great patience is required.

Anxiously waiting at the doctor's office for the pre-trip checkup.

At the pottery shop, the potter demonstrated how strong the pots are by hitting one sharply on the floor.
The girls have to get used to what it feels like to dance balancing pots, with a new (more slippery) hairstyle!

The plan for the next few days includes our final show, more rehearsing, last-minute shopping, packing, and traveling to the airport! We look forward to seeing you in America.