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Ugandan youth choir makes local stop

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

A youth choir of Ugandan orphans called Ugandan Thunder will be performing a special concert Sunday at Salem Baptist Church in Lincoln County as part of the group’s nearly year-long, nationwide tour.

According to Lincolnton native and 2004 East Lincoln High School graduate Michelle Wilson, who visits the orphanage, The Royal School, each year, the children have come a long way from the malnourished, dehydrated state she first saw them in during a medical trip to the country a few years ago.

Wilson and other individuals from the initial trip started Huntersville-based nonprofit Love Grows after the visit greatly impacted them.

“We just fell in the love with the kids,” she said.

At the time, many of the orphans, who range in age from 4 to 16, suffered from ringworm, scabies, jiggers and other diseases they had contracted from walking barefoot.

For the last four years, the nonprofit has been spending $13,000 a month in order to sustain the orphanage.

Funds stem from sponsorships, which cost $30 a month per child. Each month, all funds are shipped overseas and used to care for the entire orphanage, Wilson said.

The group plans to continue investing in the orphanage, one of 14 in Uganda, until local officials can fully support the facility’s expenses on their own.

Love Grows is also looking to start providing for a second orphanage down the road from The Royal School in the near future and turn the school over to another nonprofit group, Georgia-based Pennies for Posh, which Wilson’s organization partnered with to bring the Ugandan Thunder to Lincoln County.

Love Grows has carried out medical and dental clinics for the orphans in addition to various building projects including the construction of a well and shade houses, which are used for growing spinach, Wilson said.

Organizational officials chose the particular vegetable for its high nutritional value to improve orphans’ deficient diet, one that previously consisted of beans alone.

Over the years, Wilson has grown attached to the children and enjoys seeing how much they mature from year-to-year.

“Just seeing how happy the kids are and how they change…just like your own children,” she said.

The goal of the orphans’ choir tour is to raise money for additional Ugandan orphanages.

The concert is set for 7 p.m. Sunday at Salem Baptist Church in Lincolnton.

To donate to Love Grows or for more information, call (704) 499-4528 or visit lovegrows.org.

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