A benefit concert by British singer Joyce Shaw will be held Saturday at 7p.m. at the Rincon United Methodist Church. Her performance of familiar songs and show tunes will benefit her Kwagala Trust, a home for abandoned and orphaned children in Uganda, Africa.
After 40 years of teaching music in secondary schools in England, Shaw began working with the African Children’s Choir Organization and worked with the children’s choir groups. After a trip to South Africa, she was sent to Uganda.
“In Uganda, it was a brand new choir of little ones,” she said, adding the ages of the children were 6-10 years. “For 12 months I took them into the U.S.A. We visited 21 states in the Midwest and then back to the UK for 3 months.”
When she returned to Uganda and saw the abandoned babies in the streets, she knew that there was something she had to do. Without any kind of welfare system, the babies were left to the elements.
Shaw had been around orphanages before and found them to be very institutionalized. She wanted to do something for these children — but she wanted to create something that was more of a family unit. And Kwagala was born.
With the help of friends and church back home in England, they formed a commission, and were able to put a deposit on a piece of land and put together an all-Ugandan staff to take in and look after these helpless children.
Shaw said there is such a remarkable difference in the children after just a couple of weeks in the center.They go from starvation and deprivation to a loving, safe environment and newfound health.
A big difference between Kwagala and more common adoption-based organizations is that Joyce wants to see the children stay in their native country.
“I want to keep them Ugandan,” Shaw said. “I want them to grow up as leaders in their community and get them fully educated and let them go out and network and make it. They absolutely devour education. Education is the supreme thing for them. To be able to be educated — they know that’s the only way to get themselves out of their poverty. They know all about death — it’s close to them every day.”
Shaw said she is excited about her performance in Rincon on Saturday. She will be accompanied by the church music director Ralph Long on the piano. Shaw said she never charges a fee but just asks for donations, which go directly to the children’s needs. They pay their own travel expenses so that all of the money raised goes to the African mission. She said they maintain a “wish list” of items that are needed so people can have an idea of the kinds of things that can be donated to change these children’s lives. Shaw said she has even packed sewing machines to take on her trips.
The public is invited to attend the free concert and a reception will follow. The church is located at 107 Savannah Ave. in Rincon. For more information, call 826-5796 or go to www.rinconumc.com.