In 1999, four years after the Rwandan genocide that claimed more than one million people, Amon Munyaneza the founder of Asante Children’s Choir had an opportunity to return to his home country of Rwanda after more than thirty years in exile. Amon grew up as a refugee child in Uganda after his parents fled Rwanda in the 1950’s during the civil war that claimed and displaced thousands of his people. Upon his return to Rwanda, Amon realized that thousands of children in Rwanda were roaming the streets naked, hungry and desperate for care. Having grown up as a refugee child with very little, he quickly identified with the children of Rwanda and with only thirty dollars to his name, he founded an organization that would raise awareness for the desperate plight of the Rwandan children. By 2007, the organization was supporting close to one thousand children in Rwanda and running two full time schools for the most disadvantaged children in Butare, the Southern province of Rwanda.
In the same year, Amon and his wife Erica felt a call to promote and share the happiness and gratitude they were witnessing among the happily sponsored children. The Asante Children’s Choir was formed as a living thank-you note and a voice for many more children who still needed help to go to school.
In July 2007, Erica and Amon, assisted by worship pastors and musicians from the US, personally selected 24 gifted children from more than 500 orphaned and vulnerable children in Rwanda. After a year of training, the Asante Choir arrived in Portland, Oregon for their first Sound of Hope tour and for 90 days, the 24 happy and vibrant children toured amongst their sponsors, performed in schools and church communities and had an opportunity to experience a new world. While touring, the children were exposed to a wide variety of learning experiences from the American host families and church community groups and by the time the 24 children returned to their routine in Rwanda, they had not only touched and encouraged thousands of Americans but had also been exposed to many new ideas and possibilities.
The story of the Asante Choir continues today as more children are given the same opportunity accorded to the first group of 24 pioneers. We hope that you will join us to continue this story as new children are trained and encouraged to dream beyond possibilities.