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Happy Birthday, African style

SHELBURNE - On Dec. 3, Catie Macauley turned six years old. Instead of a party, she and her family coordinated and co-sponsored a Sixth Birthday African Benefit with the Renaissance School in Shelburne to help Ugandan and Congolese refugees in need of care and assistance.

The benefit was an African Dance and Drumming performance at the Renaissance School's space at Shelburne Commons, featuring Soriba Simbo Camara, a master dancer and choreographer from Guinea, and his dance troupe, Africa Djolie.

Catie's classmates from Danielle Harris' Kindergarten class were in attendance, along with many members of Heartworks and school communities. Catie and her family, with the Renaissance School sponsored the fundraiser for TOUCH Uganda, a locally based nonprofit organization devoted to supporting Ugandan communities in recovering and providing for sick and abandoned children.

TOUCH Uganda, which stands for Touch One Ugandan CHild, has been aiding Ugandan children in need for nearly three years. Kristine Owens, the vice president of TOUCH Uganda, came to the fundraiser to represent TOUCH Uganda, as well as to enjoy the festivities, collect donations and to sell unique benefit items for TOUCH Uganda, such as clothing produced solely for TOUCH Uganda.

There was a lot of celebrating and dancing as Africa Djolie played and danced vigorously for nearly an entire hour. The children and their families began by watching from their seats. Soon, the music and dancing was too inspiring to resist, and nearly everyone was on their feet and dancing, whether in the aisles, in front of the stage or even on the stage.

The members of Africa Djolie were very welcoming to the children who were curious about the drums and their clothing and wanted a more up close, personal experience. Children could be seen drumming and dancing along with the performers.

Refreshments were served, and after the performance was over, African arts and crafts were available for sale, as well as the aforementioned material from TOUCH Uganda.

If you are interested learning more about TOUCH Uganda, you may visit their website at www.touchuganda.org. If you are interested in learning more about Soriba Simbo Camara and Africa Djolie, you may visit his website at www.africandancinganddrumusa.com.

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