Submitted by the Central Alberta Homeschool Choir
Amid the winter snow, the laughter of young people can be heard. They rush inside to meet with their gifted choir director, Debbie Zepick, for another Friday morning rehearsal.
The concert is approaching quickly and practices are brimming with the enthusiasm of youth. These singers are part of something very special. This is not just a Christmas concert. The young people in this choir are sharing their musical talent to help children in need.
This Sunday (Dec. 15) at 3:30 p.m., the Central Alberta Homeschool Choir and the Rosedale Valley Strings Orchestra, together with songwriter Zepick, will share an afternoon of joyous Christmas music with the people of the Stettler area.
The See Amid the Winter Snow concert will be held at the Performing Arts Centre in Stettler.
Everyone is invited to come. Be inspired by beautiful music and be filled with Christmas hope. There is no charge for the concert, but a free will offering will be taken to support the Christian Life Orphanage in Mwanza, Tanzania, Africa.
The concert will be a musical delight, but the truly inspiring part of this story is the African children whose lives are being changed by the sound of hope. The relationship between the Central Alberta Homeschool Choir, the Rosedale Valley Strings, and the Christian Life Orphanage in Mwanza, Tanzania, began in 2009 when one of our former members, Daniel Zepick, met them in Tanzania. Patrick and Beatrice Mwafute welcomed orphans off the street into their home as a place of refuge, guidance and hope.
Their situation was dire. See Amid the Winter’s Snow concerts that December raised enough money to support them for the year and continued to do so in 2010, as well. In April 2011, four members of the group visited the orphanage and discovered that 34 boys were crowded into a regular three-bedroom house with no area for play or study.
Colden Palo, 16, was one of the choir members who travelled to Mwanza.
“Meeting Patrick, Beatrice and the boys was incredible,” Colden said. “They were so friendly and joyful, despite the fact that they do not have an easy life. I got to see and experience their story of hope and transformation.
“The first night we were there, the boys put on a play of their life story. The police would kick them if they found them in the streets. Nowhere was safe for them. They had a rough time until they met Patrick and Beatrice Mwafute, who basically rescued them.”
The dream was born to not only provide monthly support, but to help the orphanage purchase land and to build a suitable facility. Land was purchased in 2012 and on Nov. 30, 2013, the boys moved into their new home on six beautiful acres outside Mwanza.
Donations from last year’s concerts series exceeded $30 000 for the project. Every dollar was used for essential supplies and to build a simple dwelling for 60 children. This project is helping to change not only the lives of the children in Africa, but also the lives of people here.
“I felt selfish when I came home to my first world excesses,” Colden said. “It is embarrassing that we have so much extravagance when others who really deserve it have nothing.
“The people we met in Mwanza do such great things with so little. Beatrice and Patrick show such passion and courage in what they do. Getting to know the boys made me want to help them even more.”
Such enthusiasm is contagious.
“The passion that these students have for music and for helping others across the world is so compelling,” said Zepick, their director. “They sing their hearts out, knowing now that they can make a difference.”
The goal this year is to supply the basic needs of the Christian Life Orphanage, enable the property to be fenced securely, and initiate sustainable food production. The hope is to facilitate sponsorship for each of the boys. Plans are underway for another trip to Tanzania.
“We are so excited about going back and taking some of the older members of the choir along to meet the boys and share music and fun together,” said Zepick.
See Amid the Winter’s Snow concerts will also be performed on Friday in Camrose and Saturday in Red Deer.