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Christian Aid - UK

Lemar goes to Ethiopia to strut his stuff and to learn about the work of Christian Aid partners.

Lemar 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.

‘I saw 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 Aid.

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 else.’



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