Children come all year round to audition and perform in their regional Matsiko choir. From this group, the Matsiko World Orphan Choir is formed as the international touring team. These children not only change their lives, but also the lives of their family, village, nation and even the world!
A turning point in the life of your choir?
The big turning points I notice are when children in the choir who start with absolutely nothing- no real family or no way to eat on a regular daily basis are now at the university or vocational schools in their countries majoring in medicine, law, engineering and so much more. They follow the other older sponsored children’s pathway of success and change.
Choir Name: Matsiko World Orphan Choir
Location: Members from regions all over the world; Headquarters in Kent, WA
Style: Traditional, cultural, choral, and Pop
Number of singers: 24 children who are orphaned or at risk living in the remote villages of the Andes Mountains of Peru, the bush villages of Liberia, West Africa, the streets of New Delhi, India, or the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal.
Find Online: Website and Facebook!
What was a very special performance and what made it special?
The children have been invited to many wonderful venues from the White House to Disney World. However, when Matsiko sang at the Rose Bowl in front of 100,000 UCLA and University of Cal fans, it was incredibly gratifying to see all sides come together, after rooting against each other, to celebrate and experience the love and togetherness Matsiko can bring with each performance.
An emotional moment you had in a performance?
We were at a large Music Festival in the USA. One of the sponsors knew of the performance and came with their family to surprise their sponsored child after the performance. None of us knew they were coming, not even me. The sponsored choir member had never personally met her sponsor, only through letters and pictures. However, in front of 20,000 people, while she stood up to give her testimony, she spotted her sponsors in the crowd. To everyone’s surprise, she invited them all to stand up so she could thank them for changing her life. It was an incredibly powerful and an emotional moment that nearly caused everyone to break down!
What is something that surprises new members?
When the children first come together for the International Choir, the kids say they are surprised with the following:
1. When we take breaks and just how much food they get to eat .
2. How we are all the same even though we come from different parts of the world with different backgrounds and cultures
3. The use of washing machines, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, lights in houses and so much more. The reason for this is they don’t see or experience this in their countries, and none of them have electricity, running water, or heat in a home.
It is amazing to see once-forgotten children, with severe backgrounds of being orphaned or at-risk, come together from all around the world to become brothers and sisters.
– Don Windham
A challenging performance and how you faced it.
One time in New York they were invited to perform with no music or dancing. They just wanted to hear their beautiful voices and the children were amazing. However, they were always tempted to break out and dance!
Something you do with your choir that others might find bizarre or strange!
At the end of many rehearsals, when we have the time, we let the kids go into complete improvisational mode. They can get really really wild or incredibly thoughtful. It is all for them. Recently in Liberia, the children celebrated so hard that everyone was laughing and dancing to the point you thought they were going to tear down the Palava Hut where they practice.
Don Windham graduated from the University of California Irvine in 1984 before attending Law School at the now Trinity Law in Southern California. Don and his wife Jennie formed a youth group in the mid 1990’s at their church, Real Life Church in Covington, WA, under Pastor Steve Murray. It was here that their small youth group evolved and merged into International Children’s Network (ICN) and its Matsiko World Orphan Choir. As ICN grew, Don and his wife Jennie realized they had to choose between committing to the work of ICN, or to remain in business full time. The choice was easy. Both Don and Jennie gladly choose the work of ICN. The countless orphaned and at-risk children around the world are forever grateful! To learn more about sponsoring a child in the Matsiko World Orphan Choir, click here! See also www.matsikochoir.com