Aid - UK
goes to Ethiopia to strut his stuff and to learn about the work of
Christian Aid partners.
must have thought his singing and dancing tutorials were over
after he exited the BBC1 talent show Fame Academy and went on to
sell 1.2 million copies of his first two albums.
In his new role as a Christian Aid
ambassador, the singer saw a choreography class with a difference
on a trip to Ethiopia last month.
Lemar witnessed the work of the Adugna
community dance troupe, which gives young people dance
instruction, which they then use to educate others on HIV/AIDS
awareness. The Adugna dancers also give disabled children a chance
to experience dance.
some really high class professional stuff,’ recalls
Lemar. ‘Some were good at
acting, some were using traditional African dance to express their
message and in the last piece they even surprised me and
choreographed a piece to one of my songs, ‘Soulman.’
'The teenagers there told me that dancing
is an important way of getting them off the streets and giving
their lives focus. It was really inspiring to see the result of
their hard work.’
The singer also saw non-musical endeavours
of the Gemini Trust, which was formed two decades ago to help
women with twins. It has so far assisted 1,162 mothers and more
than 10,000 children. Lemar saw cinnamon milling and school
uniforms being made.
His visit coincided with the eve of the
start of school term. He also went to the home of Misrak, a single
mother of four who has just started receiving help from Gemini. It
had a profound effect on Lemar.
‘They didn’t even have windows. They
cooked and slept in the same room. The Trust has just given her a
mattress. She told me before that it was like sleeping on sand. If
it wasn’t for the Gemini trust, I don’t want to think about
where that family would be. This has given them hope.’
It was the first trip to Africa for the
singer, who has just won two MOBO awards, since his early teens
when he lived in his parents’ home country of Nigeria. He also
travelled north to Lalibela, where he saw the work of the
Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), which is supported by Christian
EOC introduced Lemar to Yismaw, a farmer
who has been taught how to become more self-sufficient.
‘I grow papayas, avocados, mangoes, cabbage, carrots, red beets
and onions now,’ he said. ‘Now
I’m able to support my children and send them to school because
of EOC projects. I transferred my knowledge to farmers as far as
30 kilometres away.’
Lemar came away impressed by the work of
Gemini and EOC. ‘It’s
great to see how a little bit of education can help people. It was
inspirational to see how people’s donations are changing lives.
And if somebody gets back on their feet, they can help someone