By TODD HAMBLETON, Standard Freeholder JUNE 4, 2015
An African Festival to help a young Ethiopian girl in Canada secure a North American education will light up the Port Theatre in Cornwall.
The show on June 6 will feature a special performance by the world-touring Watoto Children’s Choir, from Kampala, Uganda.
“They’re tremendous,” said organizer Sandra Knight, noting the choir has toured for two decades. “It’s a high-quality show.”
It’s hoped the festival will raise over $11,000, the school fees that are needed for 17-year-old Beti Girma, a student at Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School who resides with the Knight family.
Sandra and Scott Knight have four adopted children, all from Ethiopia, and they met Beti on a trip to the African country seven years ago.
The family sponsored her schooling in Ethiopia for many years, and eventually Beti came to live in Cornwall.
“She’s a hard worker, there’s great potential for her,” Sandra Knight said. “There’s a better future for her here (in Canada).”
But it’s also costly, hence The Beti Project — an effort to fundraise and help offset the nearly $12,000 it costs each year in school fees for her to be educated here.
In Canada on a student visa, it’s hoped by the Knight family that Beti will ultimately be able to obtain another visa that allows her to attend university.
“Her situation (in Ethiopia) was really marred by some poverty and insecurity,” Knight said. “We were hoping she would have more choices (in Canada), a more solid future.”
The Knights hope family, friends and the community will come together in support of the girl, to celebrate Ethiopian culture and perhaps leave a donation, as well, providing some relief from the costly international fees.
Knight talked about all of the community support already, including from the Port Theatre, the city which is making the adjacent municipal lot available for the festival, and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO), which is receiving donations on Beti’s behalf, for a tax charitable receipt.
The African Festival is June 6 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and it’ll include a food tent, crafts, souvenirs and a traditional fresh roasted coffee ceremony.
But the show-stoppers are the choir performers, from 4-5 p.m., in a musical production and multi-media show performed by an energetic group of children ages 8-14, a production that Knight says “will inspire and make you move.”
Tickets on the day of the event are $15, and they’re $10 in advance and available at several locations, including at the Asian Grocer (812 Pitt Street) and The Grind (35 Second Street East).