HEMPHILL, TX (KTRE) - Children from Peru and Liberia have touched the hearts of many East Texans in Hemphill.
The at risk youth are members of a world orphan choir who have been given the chance to tour the United States.
If the 600 million orphan and at risk children in the world held hands, they would circle the globe more than 18 times. That statistic would include these 17 kids visiting East Texas.
"The kids in the Matsiko World Orphan Choir are orphan and at risk, so they are from Liberia, West Africa as well as Chivay, Peru," said the International Children's Network President Don Windham. "The first time South America ever allowed orphan and at risk kids was to Matsiko and now the same with Liberia."
For the past 15 years, Don Windham has been working with the government to break the cycle of poverty through education.
"They grow confident, they grow mature. When they go back their interaction skills are off the charts," Windham said.
12-year-old Sunnie from Liberia and 11-year-old Leydi from Peru have never been to Texas but they've grown quite found of historical East Texas since they've been here.
"It is so great; I love it," Sunnie Carr said.
"It's so pretty," Leydi Anasco said.
Wilma Walton is hoping the matsiko choir will touch the hearts of many.
"If you've ever been on a mission trip and you get to hear some of these orphans talk, it is very touching," said Six Mile Baptist Church Children's Director Wilma Walton. "You don't realize how much our country has to offer until you're able to hear about some that do not have anything at all."
Americans celebrate liberty on Independence Day as these abandoned children are learning freedom through singing and dancing.
"When I'm performing, I'm doing everything I love," Carr said.
Sunnie is certainly not shy to share his passion and connect with East Texans in the audience at Six Mile Baptist Church.
"I learned how to sing from this program because I go to choir practice," Carr said. "We have our leaders that teach us songs."
"I learned to practice in my country," Anasco said.
Leydi may have just learned English but just like the other choir members she's certainly learning fast.
"Their skills in studies are beyond what they were before. So, for instance in Liberia they now know more than what they did in all of their schooling combined," Windham said. "And for Peru we just got a letter from their school and they said that they are surprised that they know more than the kids there."
After each tour these kids are able to go back to their villages as leaders.
The World Orphan Choir will spend the weekend in Hemphill sharing their talents with East Texans.