More than 20 African children will dance and sing their way across a Concord stage this week, faces beaming with wide smiles as they perform.
Some lost their parents. Some came from families that could barely afford to feed them. All are hoping for a better future.
The internationally renowned African Children's Choir will perform May 21 at Harvest Community Church in Concord.
Admission is free, but entry is first-come, first-served. The church holds about 400.
Matt Turbedsky, the church's youth and worship pastor who helped organize the choir's performance, said the church hopes that people who attend will support the organization's ministry.
"It's more than music," Turbedsky said. "It's more than just singing and performing. They're saving kids' lives."
The African Children's Choir hosts music camps for children, usually ages 7-11, across Africa. From those camps, leaders select children to join a traveling choir that tours North America.
Children selected to tour spend about five months at a choir training program in Uganda, where the children learn songs and dances and attend school and church.
When they return to Africa after their tour is complete, the African Children's Choir continues to provide care and education. The program, which began in 1984, has reached out to children in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, southern Sudan and South Africa.
The choir appearing in Concord is made up of 23 children from Uganda and Kenya.
Tillas Kyende, a 26-year-old chaperone for the choir, knows the value of the program. When he was nine, he auditioned for the choir in his native Kenya. He traveled across the United States and Canada with the choir.
"I've been to places I would have never been to," said Kyende, who said he came from a poor family.
When he returned to Africa, he focused on education and graduated from college with a business management degree.
But he continued to work with the choir. He hopes that the children will achieve their dreams - like he did.
"They still have hope, and you can see their potential when they're performing."
When the group returns to Africa, Kyende will serve as a mentor for the children. Someday he'd like to start a business.
Michelle Cole, the choir's tour leader, has worked with the organization since 2008. In an phone interview from Virginia, where the choir was performing, she recalled a trip in which she helped run a music camp for children in one of Kenya's most notorious slums.
"What moved me most is that regardless of their circumstances, they're still happy and full of joy," she said.
The group's goal is to end the cycle of poverty by supporting and educating some of Africa's most vulnerable children, Cole said.
"What we in America see about Africa is death, disease, starvation and poverty," she said. "There's so much more to Africa. When you see these children and their smiles, you see hope for Africa."