The Kapasseni Project

Who We Are - Kapasseni Partners

Joseph and Perpetua Alfazema

Gettin' Higher Choir

The Gettin' Higher Choir is a 300-member community choir in Victoria, directed by Shivon Robinsong and Denis Donnelly. Celebrating a belief that the joy of singing is everyone's birthright, the choir draws inspiration from many cultures, times, and spiritual paths. The choir has held annual fundraising concerts for Kapasseni since 1999. Special guests who have generously performed with the choir at those concerts include Valdy (2009), Susan Osborn (2008), Beth Nielsen Chapman (2007), Ann Mortifee (1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, and 2006), Paul Horn (2006), Teresa Doyle (2004), Nelly Furtado (2002), and Virgo Rising (2001).

Choir members also help the Kapasseni Project in many other ways, including fundraising for specific areas of the work in Kapasseni, Sena, and Caia.

UBUNTU - a Village and a Choir

Shivon writes: There is an ancient Zulu word that I love - "ubuntu" - which declares that "a person is a person through other persons", or "I am because we are." Ubuntu is a concept embedded in traditional African values of respect and compassion, interdependence, community, tolerance and appreciation of diversity, and an understanding that what defines us is achieved through our relationship with others. The more I reflect on this concept, the more I see that if positive change is to occur, it will be through the quality of the relationships we have with each other.

When the GHC sang at Victoria's FolkFest in 1998, we met the Mozambique Choir, led by Perpetua Alfazema. I was drawn to this warm and engaging group of Africans, and we enjoyed sharing songs and stories. Perpetua asked if the GHC would join them in a benefit concert to help build a school in their former village of Kapasseni. With Ann Mortifee, we filled St. Andrew's Cathedral, and raised $11,000. I went to Kapasseni with the Alfazemas in 1999, and in the simple miracle of two cultures working together to build a school and a future for the children, I experienced ubuntu spirit and its power to heal the world. Since then, I have been solidly committed to an ongoing relationship with the Alfazemas and with Kapasseni.

Our annual fundraising concerts for Kapasseni have become a tradition we are proud of, one that helps define who we are as a choir and as individuals. I am continually delighted by the creative generosity of choir members seeking to help Kapasseni. At times choir practice feels more like a marketplace, with members selling cards, CDs, and other items at the break, with all proceeds to Kapasseni. When $7,500 was needed to ship a huge donation of vitamins to Mozambique, the entire cost was donated in one night at choir! When news came of food shortages, almost $10,000 was raised for food seeds. And when choir member Sabine Laubental, faced with the progressive loss of her own eyesight, asked questions about eye health in Kapasseni, the Eye Care Program was started, and funded mostly by choir members.

What has been accomplished by the choir with the Kapasseni Project has drawn great interest and has inspired a movement of what we call Ubuntu Choirs - choirs based on inclusion, interdependence, generosity, and social engagement. We have formed the UBUNTU Choirs Society to support the growth of these choirs and facilitate their charitable work.

So much has grown out of that first meeting with Joseph and Perpetua. Their steady, joy-filled commitment to Kapasseni has been a great source of inspiration for me and for the choir. We feel blessed by our connection with these wonderful friends, and blessed by the opportunity to have learned about ubuntu from such fine teachers.

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