NAC Cape Town Children Choir on a rescue mission

The 120 girls and boys will have had a lot to tell when they returned home to South Africa after their eleven-day concert tour in Germany. They also shared their impressions with

The children, aged 8 to 14, came to Germany on a special mission: “We are here to save lives,” Shannon (aged 13) states unequivocally. With their concerts, the children wanted to raise funds for the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, Jennifer (aged 11) explains. “It feels good to sing for the Lord and knowing that we are doing it for a good cause,” Lynzee (aged 11) adds.

The idea for this tour came from the leader of the New Apostolic Church Cape, Christiane Kummer says. She is the spokesperson for the non-profit organization Kids4Africa Ltd., which hosted the choir. The New Apostolic Church has already done so much for this hospital in South Africa─the only hospital in southern Africa specializing in paediatric care─that the hospital has named one of its consultation rooms after our Church, she adds.

The hospital wants to expand its intensive care unit. With only 22 beds it is far too small. Although the operating costs are financed by the government, investments have to be financed through donations. The New Apostolic Church Cape was only too glad to help.

In mid December the children boarded a flight to Frankfurt in Germany. From there they were taken by bus to a nearby youth hostel in Limburg. “Everywhere you drive, you see trees,” Kirstin (aged 12) said. The other children were also amazed by many of the things they saw or did not hear. “It is so clean here. There is no dirt in the streets,” Jenna (aged 12) discovered. “Everything seems so calm and quiet here, not like in Cape Town, where you just have cars and taxis,” Tamika (aged 12) thought.

Dozens of volunteers and many sponsors made sure that their guests had everything they needed. Many of the host parents took their charges on outings. “It feels wonderful, because the Germans are nice and caring,” Mikyle (aged 11) said, and she is not the only one who thought so.

There was a great deal of excitement about some of the outings that had been planned for them. One of the highlights for Lorenthea (aged 12) was a visit to a bakery, where the whole choir of 120 baked cookies. The absolute highlight for many was meeting some of the players of the Frankfurt Skyliners, a basketball team. “It was awesome playing with the pros. Awesome with a capital A!”

But the concerts topped everyone’s list. For a whole year, the children had met every weekend for rehearsals, and some had even attended a week-long summer camp. At the concerts, however, the South African guests did not have the limelight all to themselves. Hundreds of German children had been practising for these concerts since 2012. In no time at all─between a lot of chattering and laughing and Nintendo games─the children had established a special kind of international relations. That is why the concerts were a highlight for Shannon, “Because I met my German friends.”

The choir gave four concerts in Germany. On the programme were South African traditionals and English and German Christmas carols. According to Spokesperson Christiane Kummer, the concert in Saarbrücken was a warm-up. “The concert in Strasbourg was the most emotional and the one in Kassel the most festive. And Frankfurt was the grand finale, in which more than 600 children from South Africa and Germany shared the stage.” To date the proceeds of the concerts from tickets and donations amount to some 80,000 euros.

While in Germany, the South African children of course also went to church and had the following observations to make: “Compared to our church buildings in Cape Town the ones in Germany are very small. And the houses in Germany are nice and big,” Tamika noticed. Aiden (aged 11) was impressed by the following: “Church in Germany starts later than in South Africa.”

What really seemed to have impressed the children is the public security in Germany. Shannon said, “There is barely any crime.” Most of the visitors were, however, a little less impressed with the weather. It certainly did not put its best foot forward. It was rainy and cold. Lynzee, however, did not seem to mind, “I like the winter here, because I don’t like summer.” Jennifer had been looking forward to snow, but in vain. The first snow fell only after Christmas. By then the children were long home.

“It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget,” Lynzee concludes. And Aiden adds: “If I get a chance I would like to come back.”

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Andreas Rother