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January 9, 2004

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Singing for a Christian charity in exchange for an education held irresistible promise for 9- and 11-year-old Zambian boys used to crushing stones for almost no pay. Money raised from singing in African a capella folk style at U.S. churches, schools, malls and on the streets was supposed to benefit many, on multiple levels, the boys were told. It would pay for new schools in Zambia, allow the singers to earn money to help their families and enable the boys to get the schooling they longed for.

"It was like a dream come true," recalled Mophat Chongo, a former choir member who is a 19-year-old senior at Lake Dallas High School. "They told us they were going to give us free everything -- free clothes and money." But in Texas, the promises proved false for Chongo, his cousin Given Kachepa, 17, and more than 60 other young men who toured over the years with the choirs sponsored by the former TTT: Partners in Education throughout much of the 1990s.The operation basically dissolved in January 2000 when immigration authorities took the young men in the latest group from the organization's custody and placed them in the care of American families. In the case of the Zambian singers, the young men said they never received money for their work, which often involved singing three or four concerts a day. The groups performed across North Texas and in at least 28 other states. "We weren't going to school. All we were doing was singing and singing," said Kachepa, who now lives in Colleyville with an adoptive family. More

Posted by acapnews at January 9, 2004 8:32 AM

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