What’s it like to spend hours and miles in a bus with lots of children?
Not so bad, when they’re the members of His Little Feet, a choir composed of orphaned and rescued children. The group will present a free public program at 7 p.m. today at LifeTrack Christian Church, 1068 N. Highway 69, Frontenac.
“We have a couple of rules right from the start,” said Jeff Dillon, director of operations for His Little Feet. “We do not ask ‘Are we there yet?’ or how close we are to where we’re going. That just makes it seem longer. Also, everybody is in charge of keeping their place on the bus clean, and they do a pretty good job of it.”
The choir was on the road about eight hours Tuesday, traveling from a performance date in Kentucky to Kansas.
“They had a treat on the bus today,” said Becca Dillon. “They got to watch ‘Tom and Jerry’.”
Other times, her husband said, staff and youngsters have devotions, Bible reading and study on the bus, along with some school work.
“We probably have to make more bathroom stops for staff members than for the kids,” Dillon added. “They’re good little travelers.”
His Little Feet was founded in 2009 by Michael and Christa Hahn.“For the last two years they have traveled and led the team,” Dillon said. “Last year they had a baby and adopted a son from Haiti, so they decided not to travel this year and asked my wife and me if we would be tour team leaders.”
He said the choir group this week has eight youngsters between the ages of 7 and 14 from Ethiopia, China and the United States.
“We have as many as 14 who travel with us during the year, but this is one of our smaller groups,” Dillon said. “We’ve been touring since mid-January and have been in 30 states. These kids get to see more of the United States than most people do.”
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He said the choir typically spends a month on the road, then goes back to its base in Colorado for a month.
“We’ve got performances in Lincoln, Neb., and Rock Rapids, Iowa, then we’re heading back to Colorado,” Dillon said.
Children for the choir are identified in cooperation with international partners.
“People ask us if we have a music contest to choose choir members, but we do not,” Dillon said. “These children have no musical background whatsoever. We work with our international partners to find children would be a good fit for the program, who are physically, mentally and emotionally in a position to benefit from it. They really get a pretty incredible opportunity.”
Youngsters selected attend the His Little Feet Life Training Academy, receiving training in academics, performing arts and life skills.
“We use a curriculum from their own country and also have an English curriculum they use,” Dillon said. “Each of the children in the choir learns English. We teach them things that will benefit them for a lifetime.”
Each child in the choir has lost or been abandoned by one or both biological parents because of preventable disease, extreme poverty, lack of clean water, HIV/AIDS, tribal warfare or death. However, all are now in loving environments and will return home at the end of their season with the choir.
“Some of them have been adopted, or are out of the orphanage system,” Dillon said. “We do have five youngsters now who do live in an Ethiopian orphanage, and are in the United States on a visa until the end of September.”
The children serve to raise awareness of Americans to the needs in the world.
“There are more than 163 million orphans today,” Dillon said. “More than 26,000 children die every day in Third World countries because of preventable illnesses. It’s a huge problem, but there are many things people can do to make a difference.”
Among them are making donations, sponsoring children overseas, going on mission trips to aid orphans and adopting children who need homes. Anyone needing additional information may visit www.hislittlefeet.org.