The children behind the voices of the African Children’s Choir are bringing a message of hope to their audiences.

Composed of Ugandan children ages 7 to 10 years old, the choir, which performs in Baton Rouge this month, can help Americans realize that many African nations are full of potential, said Tina Sipp, the choir manager.

“What we hope the audience receives is hope and encouragement that if we invest in Africa today, in the children, then we can have a hope that some of those challenges can be met in the future. If we don’t invest in their children today, how can we accept anything different?” she said.

At Florida Boulevard Baptist Church on Sunday, Jan. 17, the African Children’s Choir will perform gospel favorites, African songs and traditional children’s songs, such as “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” and “This Little Light of Mine.” Some will be performed a cappella, or with drums, and others will feature larger gospel arrangements.

Most of the children in the choir program have lost one or both parents to war, famine or disease. Their families often cannot pay any of the fees associated with school in many central African countries, Sipp said.

“The children we are working with, none of them will ever get the chance to be educated,” she said. “They’re going from no hope of breaking out of poverty to what we hope will become the future leaders of communities, cities and maybe even countries.”

Founded in 1984, the choir selects children from educational centers in multiple African countries. The choir members tour for about a year, then return to the African Children’s Choir school, where they study for three years before taking selective tests that help decide their futures.

Many choir members have become leaders in their communities, Sipp said, and receiving an education helps their families as well.

“If they can get one person educated in the family, they have a chance of becoming more self-sustaining,” she said.

The choir’s show involves bright, traditional African costumes and lively choreography, Sipp said. The show does not dwell on the challenges of poverty and war many African nations face, she said. Rather, the choir will “camp on the beauty, the potential and the dignity of the children.”

Sipp wants audiences to realize that the children they are watching can change their continent and the world.

“They simply don’t have opportunity,” she said. “It’s not that they’re not bright or talented. They just don’t have opportunity.”