By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette — We all have problems, and sometimes it just takes a friendly, compassionate ear to help us get through. Sometimes it takes a bit more than that. And sometimes, in so listening, we often get more from those whom are joyful in their problems than what we give to them in return.
So it will be with some of the children from Africa who will be coming here to visit our Niagara Falls. These children, many of which have lost parents, siblings, or some other close relative to the wars, famine and the disease that plague Africa, will be here to sing for you tonight. Maybe it is somewhat because of their plight, but they certainly do it in spite of plight.
Sometimes we Americans are all talk and no action — even us Niagarans. We spout platitudes like, “It takes a village …” and all the while, the only time that we want to participate in that village is either when we are the one that someone serves, or if we are the one acting as that village’s chief.
Well, we are being served on this one; and especially me. I have promises to keep. These children are very much like the ones that I met in Haiti, many years ago. Back then, even my drunken heart went out to their pain and suffering, and I promised one child that I would come back for them. I never returned.
Because of my failure, it makes me feel better in encouraging you all, despite from what continent your ancestors may have hailed, to come out and to support these children. In a sense, it brings me closer to fulfilling my promise; and it brings you closer to the promise that we all owe each other.
One of the good things about these children coming to perform for you at 6 p.m. today at Mt. Zion Baptist Church is that they, in a sense, will fulfill a very sober instruction that, not too many years ago, I gave a young man in Senegal, Africa, when he asked me about sponsoring his coming to America.
I told him that his job was not to get an education and to come to America to live. “Your job,” I said, “is to get an education and to build the kind of Senegal that will make Americans want to come here to live!”
Ironically, one of the ambitions that the sponsor of this group wants the children to do is to expose themselves to the world, so that they can return to their country and be leaders there. That, ironically, is also a local goal of Leadership Niagara, an organization into which the Gazette has sponsored me. Here, we are to become better leaders locally.
But, as the children’s website says, “The primary goal of the choir is to raise awareness of the need of destitute and orphaned children in Africa and to raise funds for continued development and support of the African Children’s Choir Programs. The choir’s international educational endeavor provides unique training for the children. Once Choir members have completed a concert tour, they will return to their homelands with the tools necessary for bettering their future.”
I implore you to be a part of this wonderful event. You may not have traveled the world; but, as it is in Niagara Falls, the world has once again come to you. Now be a part of it and bring your parents and children to 1334 Calumet Ave. at 6 p.m. for entertainment and education. It’ll be worth your while, you can help someone, and because of your actions, like me, after I saw my first event as such in Croatia, Yugoslavia, you will be talking about it for years to come.
Contact Ken Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.Contact Ken Hamilton at email@example.com.