Northern Uganda Choir Festival

Why a Choir Festival?


Singing is a very important cultural tradition in the communities where Seeds for Development works, as the people communicate important messages through song. They also sing away their troubles.  We realised that we could communicate our messages via our farmers to the communities through their singing and if organised properly we could vastly expand our reach.  We suggested a group start a choir and word quickly spread around the area. The farmers have found that singing together not only aids communication to the wider community, but also gives a sense of belonging and well-being, provides a focus with a communal goal and promotes community development and cohesion. Being absorbed in music provides a distraction from negative thoughts, it lifts people’s moods, helps with mental health and has a calming effect. In war-torn areas, song is used to treat trauma. Studies have proven that there is a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms after music therapy.


Each community is aware that other villages in the area have formed choirs and they have a dream to sing together in one big festival. Seeds for Development is working on logistics and will liaise with government officials, the police and village elders in the region to make sure that everyone approves of the idea and authority is given to bring a large number of people together in one place.

In the meantime, Seeds for Development is going to run fun, educational singing workshops with each choir to give joy, teach new skills and provide a sense of well-being, achievement and community cohesion.

The Choirs

The recently formed groups make 12 farmers' choirs and 5 nursery school choirs with approximately 40 people in each choir, 680 people in total. The choir members are all farmers from groups around Gulu and Kitgum, and children from the schools supported by Seeds for Development. They are:

  • Koro Child Mothers

  • Kane Rac

  • Kica Ber

  • Olingo

  • Akem Kwene Child Mothers

  • The Nighties

  • Arugudi

  • Mon too pi Lotino

  • Gum pe Loke

  • Nge Kidi

  • Paibwor

  • Potuke

  • Vision Hope Nursery School

  • St Peter’s Nursey School

  • Three Kitgum Nursery Schools

The current theme of their singing is ‘Health’. This follows on from a campaign run by Seeds for Development to try to combat a rapid increase in deaths from Malaria in the area. Each choir is learning to sing the Uganda National Anthem and they have been encouraged to learn a song of their own choice. During the singing workshops they will be taught a new song in English.

Farmers singing the Uganda National Anthem

Choral Workshop/Festival Team

Seeds for Development is delighted that two wonderful volunteers in the UK, Tim Peters and Helen Sutton are going to spend time with all 17 choirs this summer. Tim and Helen are raising funds to get themselves to northern Uganda and cover their expenses while they are there. Read more about them and consider helping them at:


Read about their experience here: Helen and Tim's Blog

Between them, Tim and Helen will:

  • travel to Northern Uganda for 2 weeks at the end of July beginning of August 2017

  • choose the song in English to be sung and teach it to each choir

  • hold choral workshops with each of the 17 choirs in their home villages

  • Helen will provide women’s health education to farmers within the current weekly literacy programme

  • return to run the Choir Festival once authorisation is given

Tim in action, conducting Sheffield University Chamber Choir