By CHERIL VERNON
The Zambian Vocal Group will be singing at three local schools and two churches this week in Palestine — sharing their story about their country and their ministry to help the children in their country have a better education.
The group is scheduled to perform Friday at three Palestine Independent School District campuses: Story Intermediate at 8:30 a.m., Southside Elementary School at 10 a.m. and Northside Primary School at 1:30 p.m.
The Zambian Vocal Group also will perform at 6 p.m. Saturday at Antioch Church, 907 E. Murchison St., and at 11 a.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church, 422 S. Magnolia St. The group will have CDs and Zambian articles for sale at all events.
“The group loves to be able to minister to the students at the schools here in the U.S. They are able to share a little bit with the students what it is like for the Zambian students to be able to get an education and how hard they have to work just to be allowed to go to school,” Zambian Vocal Group office manager Pammie Sichangwa said. “They try to inspire the students to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to them and to take their education seriously. It’s a fun program with singing, dancing, and audience participation while teaching them important lessons.”
The Zambian Vocal Group’s five members grew up in the small town of Kalingalinga just outside of the capital of Lusaka in Zambia, Africa. They started singing together as a church choir over 20 years ago. The group has been touring the United States as Zambian missionaries in an effort en enable the children of Zambia to better themselves through education. In 2004, the group founded the Zambia Vocal Group Academy. Currently, there are just under 300 students enrolled in the ZVG Academy. Each student has been chosen because they would not be able to attend school without help.
Through donations, the group provides and pays for the school buildings, the desks, uniforms, school supplies, shoes, teachers’ salary and everything these children need from first grade through seventh grade.
Zambia is located in South Central Africa. It is a landlocked country slightly larger than the state of Texas. There are 13 million people in Zambia and half of them are under the age of 16. This huge number is due to the high death rate from extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.
The average life expectancy in Zambia is 38 years old and it has the fifth highest death rate in the world.
Of the 6.5 million children in Zambia, more than 1 million of them are orphaned.
Conditions for these children are nearly impossible. With extremely high unemployment rates, about 86 percent of the population of Zambia must live on less than $1 a day.
With so many families struggling just to make it to the next day, school is often considered a luxury. Although there are a few free government schools, the waiting lists are so long and the child’s family must be able to provide uniforms and school supplies for each child.
Some of the students at the Zambian Vocal Group Academy are orphans, many being raised by grandparents or aunts that were already struggling with their own families. Some of the students have one or both parents that are struggling just to put food on their table and would never be able to afford to send any of the children to school. If a family is able to save enough money for tuition, it’s very common for just one child to be chosen to send to school and the rest of the siblings will be kept home or sent to work to help make ends meet.
How to Help
There are several ways to help the Zambian Vocal Group with their ministry, including:
• Give to the scholarship program — The Zambian Vocal Group Academy is for children in grades 1-7. They are now offering scholarships for children to go on to high school and finish their education. For more information, visit http://www.zambianvocalgroup.org/scholarship-program.html
• Give to the building fund — The group is trying to raise money to complete a security wall fence around the property. For more information, visit http://www.zambianvocalgroup.org/support-the-building-fund.html
• Participate in a mission trip — The Zambian Vocal Group takes a mission group to Zambia each summer in June. For anyone interested in joining their future mission teams, or giving towards the mission trip, visit http://www.zambianvocalgroup.org/go-to-zambia.html