mercredi 20 août 2014

Haitian children's choir promises moving night in Chesterfield

CHESTERFIELD — Pastor Scott Masters of the Asbury United Methodist Church didn’t have a direct connection with Haiti before the January 2010 earthquake.
He knew of its poverty and Haiti’s designation as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. But it wasn’t until after the earthquake, when the small church in Chesterfield began doing what it could to raise money and awareness for its victims, that Masters became more intimately involved.
“For us it meant (helping provide) hygiene, cleanup kits, things like that,” Masters said. “Through that, we discovered the Haitian choir.”
Although Masters has never been to Haiti, for the third straight year a taste of Haitian culture will touch the Monadnock Region. On Wednesday, Grace Community Evangelical Free Church in Spofford will host the Hope Haitian Choir at 6:30 p.m.
The two churches forged a partnership for the concerts two years ago, as Grace Church features the larger sanctuary.
Admission is free though donations will be accepted. All proceeds will go to missionary work in Haiti, Masters said.
The choir, which consists of 16 children ages 7 to 15, is nearing the end of its month-long, 24-concert tour in the Northeast. A majority of concerts are held in Maine, with a sprinkling in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts. It will finish up with a brief visit to New York and New Jersey.
The choir is the brainchild of Chuck and Barb House of Boothbay, Maine, who coordinate everything from auditioning the singers in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince to obtaining visas, immunizations and plane tickets. The couple began missionary work in Haiti after adopting a baby son from the Central Plateau region in 1990.
“They are amazing, dedicated people,” said Masters, who attended Keene State College and graduated from Franklin Pierce University.
Barb House is a music teacher and performer; she directs the choir and has written some of the songs it performs. They audition different singers every year in Haiti for the trip to the U.S. Meanwhile, Chuck takes care of many of the logistics. Bringing 16 Haitian children to the U.S. is no small challenge.
Since its inception in 2012, every year the choir has tried to raise money for projects in Haiti. This year is an ambitious one — the couple is trying to build a church and school in Lamarre, an impoverished village that’s the hometown of their adopted son.
Masters said he was awestruck by the talent of the singers the first time he heard them. In addition to singing, the children share stories of what it’s like living in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake and how it affected their lives.
“These children have touched our hearts and continue to remind us of something powerful,” said Masters, who has two children of his own. “If these children can find hope in such hardship, we most certainly should be able to find it in ours. … We were so deeply moved by these moments, we devote our year to education and mission. They change us.”
The children stay with host families in the U.S., and Masters says his family has hosted in the past although they are not this year. The children sing almost every night — tonight they are in Pepperell, Mass., and Thursday they will move on to Salem, Mass.
The tour wraps up next week, and they will return to Haiti Aug. 28.
“Anyone who attends will find it a very moving experience,” Masters said. “We’re a small church and the conditions in Haiti are incredibly hard. (The concert) puts a face on the missions we’re trying to help. It really is an amazing night.”

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