Hesston College students support school for former child soldiers

Tony Brown speaks at the Anthony Brown Baritone School in Uganda.

When Hesston College student leaders discovered a need for fundraising for a Ugandan school for former child soldiers, they rose to the challenge.

Fueled by a passion for service for others, they are recruiting more students, faculty and staff to showcase their talents for the cause.

The Hesston College Peace and Service Club, led by co-chairs sophomores Josh Landis (Sterling, Ill.) and Kendrik Mast (Harrisonburg, Va.), will host a talent showcase featuring Hesston College students, faculty and staff at 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 3 at Hesston Mennonite Church on the Hesston College campus. A free-will donation will be collected during the event with proceeds benefitting the Anthony Brown Baritone Comprehensive School in Pader, Uganda in East Africa.

The Anthony Brown Baritone Comprehensive School is named in honor of Hesston College sociology instructor, artist in residence and internationally acclaimed baritone and promoter of peace Anthony “Tony” Brown. The school, run by the Ugandan organization Friends of Orphans, provides a free education for formerly abducted child soldiers, orphans and other vulnerable children in the war-torn country.

Uganda has been devastated by more than 20 years of civil war between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the government. The LRA has abducted an estimated 40,000 children to fight, making up 90 percent of LRA soldiers.

For those fortunate enough to escape from the LRA, reintroduction into society is not always easy. The Anthony Brown School has an agricultural component, and local production is part of its income and sustainability plan. Students receive a typical education while also learning agricultural trades that eventually help them secure jobs and support themselves. The school is in need of $2,000 to ensure it can maintain high quality education.

The school operates modestly, but is committed to helping as many troubled youth as possible. The fundraising project is the kind of thing students in the Peace and Service Club are committed to doing. They plan one peace-related activity and one service-related activity each month.

“We wanted to help with this project because it is something practical we can do as college students,” said Landis. “It is a need that we can help satisfy while helping to improve other people’s lives.”

Acts in the talent showcase will include vocal selections by Tony Brown, poetry by President Howard Keim, choral pieces by the Bel Canto Singers and a student magic act among others.