Recently our school community was delighted to be able to welcome the Abaana New Life Choir to spend some time with us. Their visit proved to be a highlight of the year for many people at Archbishop Holgate’s. Abaana is a Christian based charity which invests in Children in Africa, helping them to break the chains of poverty, through education. Most of their projects are in Uganda, working in 13 locations supporting the children and parents in those communities. They have been able to build 13 schools, support churches and sponsor over 1,300 children as well as working with children on the streets and other projects. Abaana has raised over £1 million to help build schools, medical projects, water pumps and support many children in need.

For the last few months twenty children and their chaperones have been touring Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The purpose of this has been to raise funds for the ongoing work of Abaana; especially in terms of education and work with orphaned street children. The tour has also had the added benefit of raising awareness about their work too. Archbishop Holgate’s was the only concert and host venue in York, and the only school to host the choir throughout the entire tour.

The children arrived on Tuesday afternoon and then went home with school staff, who along with their families were going to host them for the next two nights. This was a really enriching experience for all involved and has led many of them to decide to become sponsors for the future education of some of the individual children. The following day the children had a busy and varied programme in school. The day started with two technology lessons. This involved creating a delicious couscous dish and making wooden pencil holders. In both cases they were ably assisted by our Sixth Form Student Leaders. Later in the day the children performed three energetic concerts for Years 7, 8 and 9. Our students were amazed at the Ugandan children’s energy and skill and were shocked to learn from the video presentation about the difficult backgrounds that they come from. At lunchtime the Student Leaders were again excellent hosts to the children; playing games with them on the school field.

After a short sleep and then an evening meal it was soon time for the main evening performance. The audience was comprised of several hundred pupils, parents and friends of the school. The evening started with two musical pieces by our own school choirs. This was then followed by a truly uplifting concert filled with beautiful singing, energetic dancing and very moving videos which spoke about the life-changing impact of Abaana’s work. A huge £1,497 was donated at the concert, and this will be boosted by an extra £260 in Gift Aid. The charity also sold several hundred pounds of merchandise and obtained 12 new child sponsors who have made an ongoing financial commitment to the work of the Abaana.

Richard Nihill, School Chaplain said: “It has been a privilege to work closely with the New Life Choir and organise their programme. Welcoming them into our community has had an enriching effect on all the pupils and staff who have encountered them in a variety of ways. Abaana’s vision of Justice and Compassion for the children of Uganda sits very well with our own school values.”

A member of school staff who hosted children from the choir said: “It was a very moving experience that has had a lasting effect on both my family and myself. I was really taken by the strength of their faith in God, and their firm belief that He would provide for them, and the way that Abaana live out the Gospel in their daily work.”