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HALO group holding ‘Idol’ contest to benefit Mengo Home in Uganda

HALO group holding ‘Idol’ contest to benefit Mengo Home in Uganda
Angie Hutschreider angieh@newstribune.com
PUBLICATION: Jefferson City News-Tribune (MO)

SECTION: Local

DATE: September 29, 2009

Page: 7
Be prepared to unleash your inner superstar. Idol is coming to Jefferson City.

Organizers of HALO, (Helping Art Liberate Orphans) a foundation that is committed to enhancing the living conditions of orphans worldwide, has a local chapter that works to provide for the needs of the children living in the Mengo Home in Kampala, Uganda.

The home provides a place of safety and refuge for 20 girls.

“Most of the girls come from families whose parents have died or were just not able to care for them,” said Rebecca Welsh, founder of Jefferson City HALO.

To help provide for the girls, fundraisers like Mid-Missouri Idol are held.

Auditions for Mid-Missouri Idol are being held beginning at 9 a.m. on Oct. 18 in Jason Gym, on the Lincoln University campus. There is a $10 registration fee for the auditions; the fee also serves as contestants’ ticket to the finale event at 7 p.m. on Oct. 29 in Richardson Auditorium.

Welsh, said they are hoping to see performers of a variety of genres and styles.

“We are excited to see people come out at the auditions that are held very much in Idol style,” she said.

Eight finalists will be chosen and notified by phone the day after auditions.

“We want everyone to have time to practice,” Welsh said. “Preparing for a performance is all about practice, practice, practice.

“We are taking an American trend and using it to benefit orphans who are thrilled with the chance to stay in a place that provides shelter and attend school.”

In addition to the finalists preparing their voices for the show, they also are being encouraged to take part in another competition – fundraising.

“We are giving participants or anyone the opportunity to raise money for the home and then win a variety of prizes, like voice lessons or art the girls at the home made,” she said.

Art therapy is an integral part of the home’s mission.

A fundraiser held earlier this year raised funds to help meet the roughly $25,000 annual operating costs for the home.

Welsh said the purpose of this fundraiser is to help pay for school fees for the girls.

For the girls served in homes like these, it is a chance at life and an education that is typically not possible.

“My name is Winnie. I am 13 years old. My parents died and I was staying with my grandma who could not manage to care for me. I thank The HALO Foundation for sponsoring me. I now have a place to stay and I also go to school,” Winnie Nyakato wrote in a letter thanking sponsors.

“This is a safe haven for the girls,” Welsh said. “They were or would have been out on the streets, exposed to all kinds of things.”

All money raised through the event or raised by participants goes directly to the Mengo House.

For more information about the event or HALO call 816-472-4256, or go to www.haloworldwide.org.

Caption: Some of the girls living in the Mengo Home proudly hold their art projects. These will be for sale at MID-MO IDOL. Below, Mengo residents gather for a group photo.

At left is a poster with information about the MID MO IDOL auditions. Submitted photos