{4:40 minutes to read} “Wow, these kids grow up fast!” That was the thought that kept coming to mind when I saw the students this time around. Since 2009, my wife and I have been making an annual visit to Dreamland School in Ghana, a school for orphans and underprivileged children.

It’s remarkable how much the school has grown over the past six years. At first, there were only 140 students attending up until 6th grade. Now, the school has nursery-aged students and goes all the way up to 9th gradewith over 400 students attending. Some of them were only seven years old when we first met, and now they are getting ready to graduate and move on to high school.

My recent trip to Ghana was short, but extremely efficient. There were multiple projects going on at one time, including:

— Interviews with the 9th graders about their hopes and dreams (the main goal was to try to find them sponsors);

— Interviews with the teachers;

— A photography project where the students learned to take photos;

— A drawing competition for all grades, where nine winners were chosen and awards were given; and

— The formation of a singing group.

As a music enthusiast, my principal task was to form a singing group, teach them a song, and then film their performance so that we could share the final video online. These efforts were to ultimately promote the school as well as my non-profit organizationAmerican Friends of Dreamland School, which raises money for the school’s projects and the continuing education of its graduates.

The concept was to create a group of girl singers, “Dreamland Girls,” and to sing a song by an artist who was popular with girls of a similar age around the world. We chose Justin Bieber’s hit song “Sorry.” Originally I planned to limit the group to five students, but they did so well that I chose 10 to participate.

DSCN8421The biggest challenge was teaching them the song. These students do not have access to internet, phone, tablets or computers. They did not know who Justin Bieber was. It was my job to teach them the lyrics, keeping proper time, and then being able to film it, on the beat. It was a daunting task.

We rehearsed two hours a day and by mid-week, I was concerned the weren’t going to be ready in time to record the video. I gave them a pep talk and shared a music video from one of my favorite singing groups, “Boyz II Men” and told them about the importance of singing from the heart, and about the impact that their efforts could have. The next day I was flabbergasted when I saw that they all knew the words and when we did the song a cappella, that they were able to sing it on the beat and without looking at the words!
We filmed over the next two days, and now the final video is being prepared. Stay tuned for updates on the video! If you would like to learn more about the Dreamland School or make a donation, please visit their website or Facebook page. Thanks for all your support!

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