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From Uganda to Cornwall, to the beach and beyond!

Pearl of Africa Choir - Channon GRay

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything” – Michael J. Fox

So the last two weeks have been incredibly rewarding for me, as well as fun, exciting and just in general, quite happy.

We had two members of the Pearl of Africa Children’s Choir, a Ugandan Choir set up by the Molly and Paul Foundation, come to stay with us from Thursday 5th until Tuesday 10th. This is the second time that we have hosted members of the Choir, the first time being a couple of years ago when Christine and Florence joined us for almost two weeks. On this occasion we were graced with the company of Jeremiah, 10, and Meddy, 15. And oh my, there was never a dull moment.

We picked them up from my old secondary school on Thursday afternoon, Jeremiah was reluctant to hand over his suitcase for Mum to carry despite it being bigger than him! Within a few minutes of meeting them Jeremiah was already reeling off jokes and Meddy told us about the Choir’s UK tour so far as we drove the short journey home. Becky our (ancient) chocolate Labrador greeted them with a good old bit of dog slobber, yum. Meanwhile our three cats scarpered at the thought of being picked up. We explained to the boys what happened on November 5th and why we have Bonfire Night. Of course, they wanted to head out to see some fireworks following Mum’s (slightly dodgy) spaghetti bolognaise. We headed over to Heartlands, in Cornwall, where a lot of sweets were to be had throughout the chilly evening.

Fireworks - Channon Gray

Fireworks - Channon Gray

Bonfire Night at Heartlands - Channon Gray

Meddy, Natty, Jeremiah and I at Heartlands

Funfair - Channon Gray

Sweets on Bonfire Night - Channon Gray

Sweets Pizza - Channon Gray

Friday was an early start for everybody. We enjoyed omelettes around the table before dropping Jeremiah, Meddy and my Sister, Natty, off to school for the day. During the weekdays the choir travel around schools in the local area doing various drumming, dancing and singing workshops. These are then followed by an evening concert that is free of charge. Friday night was a concert at Pool Academy School and I’ll be honest, not only was it fun but I ended up reuniting with several teachers who taught me at school – a bit strange. Following the concert, we took a trip to Morrison’s to pick up a ton of eggs. I found a dragon fruit and told Jeremiah that it looked like dinosaur food, his response was “dinosaurs don’t live here anymore Channon” – oh I got told. We left the shop with: pepperoni pizza, pineapple, watermelon, strawberry ice-cream and a lot of eggs (all the essentials).

The Pearl of Africa Choir - Channon Gray

Saturday was a rest day for the team, however Natty had an open day at college so we headed over there to talk ‘IB chat’ for over an hour. Jeremiah managed to find a plate of biscuits, so helped himself to a few and Meddy put in his headphones out of boredom (how social, hehe). On Friday, whilst visiting Pool, the choir went to the beach for a pasty and a dip, and by dip, I actually mean a full on swim in the freezing cold sea (yup, you heard me, in November… er no thank you). So having had a taste for the glorious seaside, Jeremiah and Meddy asked if we could take them to the beach one last time. Whilst we spent the early evening shivering on the waters edge, the boys had the best time jumping waves and swimming around in the shallow water. Jeremiah informed us on the way back to the warm car, after an hour in the sea, that he thought his feet had fallen off. Thankfully, they hadn’t.

Perranporth Beach - Channon Gray

Perranporth Beach - Channon Gray

Jeremiah from the Pearl of Africa Choir - Channon Gray

Jeremiah

Saturday evening was spent at our local Weatherspoon’s eating (a lot) of food. I went for the Hog Chicken Burger, which is a top recommendation for me and it is cheap, hoorah. Meddy went for half a roast chicken and left behind a stack of bones – impressive. Jeremiah ordered “fish n’ chips” but was confused when the fish arrived in batter.

Sunday was a fun day, well incredibly fun to be exact. We went to the Bullpen at Dairyland, which is a giant play area for children (and adults). We had been there a matter of minutes and already everyone’s shoes were off. I turned by back for a moment and I heard Jeremiah shouting from the top of the demon drop “look at me”!  By the end of the day everyone in the group had at least one go on the extremely high up slide, even my Mum did after a little encouragement from Meddy – I know, I was shocked too.

Dairyland, Cornwall - Channon Gray

Dairyland, Cornwall - Channon Gray

Mum, Natty and Ally

Dairyland, Cornwall - Channon Gray

Sacha and Meddy

Sunday was the best day by far as after Dairyland we headed back to my Uncle Stevie’s house for a surprise. Earlier in the week Meddy mentioned that he would like a second-hand laptop so that he can be the top of his class and teach his brothers more things. This, for me, was heart-breaking as I take my laptop for granted alongside all the other luxuries I use daily. Sacha, a family friend, was particularly touched by this and so decided to fulfil his wish between her and Stevie they managed to find a fairly priced laptop. This when presented to Meddy resulted in many tears of happiness. His face said it all as he gave everyone in the room a hug whilst informing us that “we are his family”. Jeremiah received some cool crafty ‘bits and bobs’ from Sacha, as a little token, although he was more interested in GTA (without the sound) on the X-Box. We topped off a great day with a visit to KFC.

Family - Channon Gray

Top: Natty, Ally, Lez, Kember, Meddy, Me, Mum. Bottom: Brooklyn, Jeremiah, Stevie, Ashanti and Sacha.

Monday was the start of another busy week for the Choir and whilst I sat at home catching up on SacconeJoly vlogs they were working hard down at school putting on workshop after workshop. I was supposed to go back to London on the Sunday afternoon as my University reading week was over. However, I ‘missed’ the train in order to spend more time with everyone. More-or-less our whole family decided to come and show their support for the Choir on Monday night, as the concert was near to us. Monday turned out to be late night for everyone as Meddy spent hours on his new laptop and Jeremiah used his ‘cute face’ to persuade Mum to allow him to watch several episodes of Ben 10.

Pearl of Africa Children's Choir - Channon Gray

Pearl Of Africa Children's Choir - Channon Gray

Tuesday morning was a little bit sad for everyone as it was time to say goodbye to Meddy and Jeremiah due to them moving onto another host family nearby. They informed us of how much they loved our entire family and that we mean a lot to them. On Tuesday evening, Mum and I travelled over an hour down to Mullion to see the choir perform for the third time. The evening resulted in Meddy doing a spectacular job of presenting the show and Jeremiah wearing a straw hat for one of the tribal dances that covered his face. Cheeky, I tell you. At the end of concert, the boys persuaded Mum to take them back to school, so that they could spend just a little more time with us. Throughout the trip we sang along to Michael Jackson’s “Heal The World” and talked about visiting Uganda in the future. Upon arriving at the school, Jeremiah and Meddy pretended to be asleep (despite keeping one eye open to watch “Thriller” on YouTube) so that they didn’t have to leave the warm car. We said goodbye (again) to them and made sure that they were on their way with the next hosts.

Wednesday was strange, as I was supposed to go back to London but ended up missing my train by just under a minute. Although it cost me a fortune to change my ticket, I was secretly happy as it meant that I got to see the Choir perform just one last time. At the end of the show after helping to carry out their bags of costumes and storage boxes full of crafts to sell. Jeremiah whispered to Mum that he doesn’t like pancakes, but instead he likes omelettes and only she knows how to make them. Don’t worry, I am confused too.

The Pearl of Africa Children’s Choir are a charity who rely on donations to fund the schools back in Uganda. I have been lucky enough to go out to Uganda and see the work that they do with my own eyes. It is truly incredible. If you would like to find out more or donate, then click here.

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About the author

Channon Gray

I'm Channon and yes, it's spelt wrong, but that is interesting right? I'm 23 years young. I like to write, create art and travel. Cornish bumpkin who studied in London then Cambridge. I'm now a Postgraduate Student, Stationery Addict and all-round Life Enthusiast.

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