Have you ever wondered what happens after the Ugandan Kids Choir returns home? To give you an idea of what life is like for former choir kids, we caught up with Ssemujju, who was on the very first Ugandan Kids Choir tour in 2006.
The choir has grown and changed a lot since those early days. And so has Ssemujju.
When he toured, Ssemujju was 9 years old. Both of his parents died, so he’d been left to make his own way in the world. Thankfully, he was sponsored through Childcare Worldwide! Because of his sponsor, he was able to thrive – he was getting enough to eat, and was even able to continue going to school.
And then he got the opportunity to travel with the very first choir!
On tour, Ssemujju was a total ham. Meredith Stamey was his tour leader, and she remembers him fondly as a fun-loving boy with an incredible stage presence. He was always laughing and telling jokes. He was a great dancer and drummer and his smile could light up a room, both on and off the stage.
But it’s been 12 years since tour. Where is Ssemujju today?
Transitioning back into life in Uganda can be tough after the choir tour. Choir kids have seen more of the world than most of their peers. Their perspectives have shifted and they’ve learned to dream bigger. So it’s important that they have opportunities to keep dreaming when they return to Uganda. That’s why we make sure the choir kids remain a part of our sponsorship program when they go home. Sponsorship ensures they get the support they need to thrive, no matter their family’s economic situation.
For Ssemujju, sponsorship was vital because he had no family. Through sponsorship, we made a home for Ssemujju at the choir training center. During the school year, Ssemujju stayed at his boarding school. But during breaks and holidays he went “home” to stay at the training center with all his Childcare Worldwide “aunties and uncles.” There he received the same type of love, care, and encouragement he’d received while on tour. He also received the same type of spiritual instruction and guidance. His aunties and uncles filled him up with all kinds of good food, made sure his clothes were clean and taught him to behave. And they helped him continue to grow into a young man of faith and integrity.
Today, Ssemujju is 21. Last year, he graduated from high school! And because of his sponsor and his Childcare Worldwide aunties, Ssemujju’s future is bright.
In school, he stood out as a great student. His teacher, Mr. Yiga, noted that he was especially hardworking. He always set high standards for himself, and put in the time to achieve them. So it’s no surprise that he’s not done with school yet!
He’s planning to start trade school this year. He is interested in architecture and design, and hopes to build a career for himself there. He’s great at math, so he’s got the potential! Thankfully, we’ll be able to continue helping him with school fees, through sponsorship.
Currently, Ssemujju lives by himself in Entebbe, but he is proud to call the Childcare Worldwide Ugandan staff his “family.” He spends his time studying or watching football (soccer) with his friends. He’s always joking around with them, just like he used to on tour. And when “his” Chelsea football team wins, his face lights up with a big grin, and you can still see the goofy kid he was 12 years ago.
But since tour, Ssemujju’s grown up a lot – he’s learned to put the joking aside when he needs to. He’s internalized many of the lessons he learned on tour, and has continued to grow closer to Jesus. Today it’s his work ethic that shines even brighter than his smile.
We asked him how he thinks poverty can be eradicated – both for himself and for his community. The answer, he says, is simple: “working hard and praying to God.”
We couldn’t say it any better, Ssemujju! Proud of where you are today, and can’t wait to see where God leads you next!
The Ugandan Kids Choir travels all over the United States bringing a message of hope, and sharing the power of God’s love through traditional song and dance. To support them on their journey, find a performance near you!