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African orphans kick it up a notch at Miami International Airport

African orphans sing, show off kung fu moves at MIA

Orphaned children from care centers in the Southern African regions of Malawi and Lesotho performed kung fu and sang at Miami International Airport on Friday, July 22, 2016. The kids were rescued by Amitofo Care Center (ACC), an international nong
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Orphaned children from care centers in the Southern African regions of Malawi and Lesotho performed kung fu and sang at Miami International Airport on Friday, July 22, 2016. The kids were rescued by Amitofo Care Center (ACC), an international nong

In a flurry of back flips and kung-fu kicks, 17 orphans from the southern reaches of Africa showcased their talent for travelers on their way to catch a flight in Concourse D at Miami International Airport on Friday afternoon.

Crowds gathered around the circular hubs of the concourse as the children, ages 9 to 16, sang “You Raise Me Up” and performed a kung-fu routine.

Toward the end of the performance, a passenger joined in, landing five back flips with the youngest of the group. The passenger and a 9-year-old boy from Lesotho in South Africa, nicknamed “Little Obama” for his similarity to President Barack Obama, flipped down the hall like two synchronized Slinkys going down the stairs.

The performance was part of an 11-city North American tour designed to raise awareness for the Amitofo Care Center, an international, nongovernmental organization founded by a Buddhist monk, Venerable Master Huei-Li.

1,000 African orphans who are supported by the Amitofo Care Center

Huei-Li created the orphanage in the early 1990s, taking in children who lived on the streets or who were left behind by their parents, said Philip T.Y. Wang, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Miami. The children are trained in English, Mandarin, their native language and kung fu, as well as general school subjects. The orphanage is funded primarily through donations.

Since 2007, the center has also been organizing tours for the children around the world. In their performances, the orphanage seeks to display the discipline and dignity the orphans learn once they are taken in, Wang said.

Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. González said the opportunity to host the orphanage fit in well with the airport’s continuing arts and culture program, which brings rotating exhibitions, art and performances to the airport.

“It’s the idea MIA is a city and a lot of times people get stuck here, their flight is late, delayed and it’s an opportunity for us to interact with our passengers. It’s an opportunity for our passengers to find out what we’re about,” González said. “Who would have thought, these are African orphans, supported by the Taiwanese government. If that’s not globalization, I don’t know what is.”

There are currently 1,000 children supported by the center’s three orphanages and affiliated schools in Namibia, Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland and another 7,000 indirectly impacted by the work of the Amitofo Care Center.

Wang summarized the impact of the center in one anecdote: “One of the boys, I asked him, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ He looked at me and said, ‘I want to be the president of Malawi.’”

To support to the center, visit amitofocc.com/help-acc-now.

How to help

To support to the center, visit amitofocc.com/help-acc-now.

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