Midtown: Community

African children’s choir coming to Raleigh

Nine-year-old Marie Namukways tells people that the saddest day of her life was watching her baby sister, Agnes, die because her mother didn’t have money to take her to the hospital in Uganda where they lived.

Marie’s dad had walked out on her mother and four siblings, leaving them without food. When Marie’s mom left the children shortly thereafter as well, Marie and her brothers and sisters were rescued by Watoto, an organization that provides holistic care for orphans in Africa. Watoto has rescued 3,000 children and currently has three children’s villages with a goal of helping more than 10,000 kids by 2023.

Marie now lives with a house mother and other children in a Watoto children’s village where she attends school and church. She also became a member of the one of Watoto children’s choirs and has traveled around the world performing, including in Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany and France.

“I have loved making new friends with the choir, and I like making people happy when we sing for them,” Marie said. When asked about her favorite place she has traveled, she said, “New York. I really liked the bright lights.”

While the goal of the choirs is to help spread the word about the plight of orphans in Africa and the children saved through the Watoto children’s villages, the children also get invaluable experience as they are exposed to other cultures.

“The choir really gives the kids a chance to build their character, grow as a leader and expand their world view,” said Jeanine Bedell, communications director with Watoto.

The Watoto Children’s Choir will perform at 4:15 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19; and 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at Hope Community Church, 821 Buck Jones Road, Raleigh. The Broadway-style concert will include original African music, dance routines and life-transforming stories.

“This is a concert you don’t want to miss,” Bedell said. “It is a rare opportunity to see through the eyes of a child who has come from dire circumstances and now has an incredibly positive outlook on their future.”

Yavneh: A Jewish Renewal Community

Yavneh will be serving dinner and showing the movie “Lies My Father Told Me” as part of its Mini-Jewish Film Festival at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1725 N. New Hope Road, Raleigh. The heart-warming Canadian film classic is set in the 1920s Jewish immigrant community of Montreal. After the movie, Andrea Mensch, senior lecturer in film studies at N.C. State University and Sarah Stein, Academy Award-winning film editor and associate professor in the department of communications at N.C. State will lead a discussion. Attendance is limited to 12 people. Register before Monday, Jan. 21, by emailing rsvp@yavneh-raleigh.org.

The community is also invited to a family-friendly breakfast Seder in honor of Tu B’Shvat, the new year of the trees, at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, in the Community Life Center at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. A Shabbat worship service will follow breakfast. Register before 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, by emailing rsvp@yavneh-raleigh.org.

Hope Community Church Parent Summit

Hope Community Church’s annual Parent Summit is from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at the church, 821 Buck Jones Road, Raleigh. Mark Merrill, president of Family First and author of “All Pro Dad” will be the keynote speaker. Tickets are $20 per person before Jan. 28 and $30 at the door. For more information, call 919-532-0620 or visit www.gethope.net/events/parent-summit-2013.

St. Francis of Assisi Mardi Gras

The St. Francis of Assisi Seniors Club will hold its Mardi Gras 2013 Celebration at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, in the Fellowship Hall at the church, 11401 Leesville Road, Raleigh. Seniors age 55 or older are invited to the gala. Mardi Gras attire is encouraged. Tickets are $20 per person and include New Orleans-style food, unlimited soft drinks and two glasses of beer or wine. Entertainment will be provided by Randy Callahan and the Bloomsbury Boys Dixieland Band. Tickets are limited to 120 attendees, and early reservations are encouraged. To purchase tickets, call Nancy Hagan at 919-847-5350.

Raleigh Moravian seeks Spring Fling vendors

Raleigh Moravian Church is accepting vendor applications for its sixth annual Spring Fling set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the church, 1816 Ridge Road, Raleigh. In the past, vendors have sold crafts, jewelry, hair bows, totes, home goods and art. The church is also looking for donations for the raffle and goody bags. For more information, call 919-787-4034 or visit www.raleighmoravian.org.

Do you have some faith news to share? Send it to correspondent Jennifer Gregory at nrnews@newsobserver.com. For events, please give us two to three weeks’ notice.