Thornton embraces a child from Jinja, Uganda. Photo courtesy of Mika Thornton

On Thursday, Nov. 6, Palmer Hall was filled with music and spoken word poetry as up-and-coming charitable organization Tendo Ministries hosted their first talent show.  

According to the group’s mission statement found on their website, “Tendo Ministries stands to connect the children of Uganda with resources of hope, education and abundant life through sustainability projects and by making disciples of all nations.”  

 Admission to the talent show was $1, and founder Mika Thornton, a senior communication studies major and Calera native, said the money raised will go toward supporting children living in an orphanage in Jinja, Uganda.  

Raina Verser took home first place with her original slam poetry pieces “Sunsets for Alex” and “Syllogism.”  

“Honestly, I was nervous the whole time,” said Verser. “I was a nervous wreck in the few days leading up to this, but it feels good to share my love of poetry with other people.”  

Cameron Taylor took second place with a hip-hop dance performance.  

 Other performers included Mackenzie Mccreless, who sang a cover of “House of the Rising Sun,” Caitlin Smith, who sang Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” Lavaun Thompson, who performed a choreographed dance, Marley Hall who sang “Safer” from a musical called “First Date,” and Katie Ozley, who performed original poetry.   

The show was emceed by Jonathan Everheart, a musical theater major from Huntsville, who stated that he believed every performer was very talented.   

 “It should have all been a tie,” said Everheart.  

Thornton founded Tendo Ministries in December of 2017, following a 10-week mission trip that she described as both humbling and inspiring.  

“There is a little girl in Uganda that I met about two years ago who inspired the entire organization, and her name is Tendo,” said Thornton. “I had the opportunity to meet and get to know people from local villages, so I wasn’t just working in [industrialized] areas. That’s how I met Tendo. She was living in a mud hut in a village deep in Jinja.” 

The talent show garnered approximately $50 of funding, which the organization intends to put toward the construction of a chicken coop in Jinja, just one part of a five-year sustainability plan. 

According to Thornton, not only will raising chickens provide the Jinja residents with food, but also jumpstart the town’s contributions to the local economy and give the children the opportunity to learn a lifelong skill.  

Independent from the talent show, Tendo Ministries also received a game-changing donation of $800 from Pates Chapel Baptist Church.  

Currently a pre-non-profit organization, Tendo Ministries anticipates receiving its official designation in March 2019.