Some of the 25 Ugandan children touring with the African Children's Choir had seen large buildings before, but most of them had never seen a washer and dryer, or even a microwave, before embarking on their current 14-month jaunt through the United States.
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The choir - 13 girls and 12 boys from ages 6 to 9 - is in Juneau this week on the 10th month of its tour.
The group performs at 7 p.m. today at Juneau-Douglas High School and at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at Auke Bay Bible Church.
Most of the money raised at the two shows will go toward the choir members' boarding-school education when they return to Africa.
"It's been a lot of fun to watch them as they experience so many new things," said tour leader David Turner, who has been traveling with the choir for about 18 months. "That's everything from their first ride on an airplane to the first time they went on an overpass. And we also got to do stuff like Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo."
There are three choirs touring the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The group in Alaska is the 29th choir since the organization formed in 1984.
Know and go
Who: African Children's Choir.
When: 7 p.m. today,Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium; 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Auke Bay Bible Church.
For more information: Visit www.africanchildrenschoir.com.
The choir sings a mix of traditional Ugandan dances, contemporary English tunes and gospel favorites.
All the singers in this choir are from Ugandan. Some are from the city, and some grew up in remote villages. All lived in extreme poverty and have lost one parent or both.
The kids were chosen for the tour based on need, musical ability and personality. None of the children had any previous musical training.
Once they have completed their tour, they will return to their homeland to attend school.
"We really wanted to find kids that wouldn't have a lot of opportunities otherwise," Turner said. "These kids very much have the understanding that they are ambassadors for all their brothers and sisters. They act as the voice for all the others, to say, 'Here's the needs that we have.'"
"The energy and the joy of these kids is contagious," he said. "They've just got incredible minds. It's amazing how quick they pick up languages and how they pick up musical styles."