By Joel Hall
Since April, Ugandan Thunder, a group of young gospel singers from the village of Kawempe, Uganda, have traveled throughout the state, sharing songs and raising money to feed their classmates back home. Next week, the eight boys, ranging in age from 9 to 13, will share their talents in the City of Lovejoy.
On Wednesday, at 7 p.m., First Baptist Church of Lovejoy and Berean Baptist Church will host a combined worship service and free concert in the parking lot of First Baptist Church, located at 2347 Talmadge Road in Lovejoy. The concert will feature Ugandan Thunder, which will perform a variety traditional hymns, African drumming, and songs sung in Lungandan, the major language of Uganda.
Donations collected at the concert will benefit Pennies for Posho, a nonprofit organization which purchases food for six orphanages in Kawempe and the surrounding area. Ted Moody, founder of Pennies for Posho and former pastor of Mt. Gilead Baptist Church in Griffin, started the organization two and a half years ago, after a trip to Uganda, he said, focused his attention on fighting world hunger.
A pastor in Uganda told him the "kids at the church's school were hungry," Moody said. "I lived with that for a year. Posho is what they eat every day that keeps them alive. We started raising money on a small scale and it has grown bigger ever since."
"I want the concert to put a face on world hunger," he added. "It is one thing to hear that ... but once you put a face on it, everything changes."
Posho, a corn-based porridge made from maize flour and water, is a staple food for much of Africa. Moody said that since the organization's inception, Pennies for Posho has been able to purchase 70 tons of food for children in the Kawempe area.
Mike Hardin, pastor of First Baptist Church of Lovejoy, said he was inspired to invite Ugandan Thunder to perform at the church after seeing the group perform a few weeks ago at Luella Middle School, in Locust Grove. He said he believes the children of Ugandan Thunder, many of whom are orphans, will be able to impart important lessons to the audience.
"So many of our kids think they are lacking ... [and] think they come from humble means, but they don't really appreciate what they have until they talk with these kids," Hardin said. "It's really an educational experience. It also shows that happiness doesn't come from money. It really takes the focus off of materialism, and puts it on spiritual things."
Melinda Fowler, road manager for the Ugandan Thunder tour, said that in Uganda, there are about 2 million orphans who face starvation on a daily basis. She said the money raised from the concert will make a small, but meaningful difference in the problem.
"A child dies of starvation somewhere in the world every five seconds," Fowler said. "Uganda is not much larger than the state of Georgia, but we have [a population of] 9 million and they have 30 million, and 50 percent of them are under 15 [years of age] because there are so many orphans due to AIDS and malaria.
"I know what we are doing is only a drop in the bucket to what should be done, but to those 4,000 to 4,500 students, it means a lot," she said.
Ugandan Thunder will perform until July 24 at venues in Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina. For more information and a tour schedule, visit www.penniesforposho.org.