Less than a week in advance of the Oct. 21 performance, the School canceled the lunchtime concert by the International Children’s Network (ICN) Matsiko Orphans Choir because of concerns that the visit of Liberian children would evoke Ebola fears in the Marlborough community.
ICN raises money and awareness in order to help promote the education of the world’s 600 million orphans, and the visiting choir would have sold handmade goods and jewelry from the children’s native countries to support the cause of the organization.
Performing Arts instructor Deborah Sealove expressed her disappointment that the choir could not visit this year but hopes that they have the opportunity to do so next year.
The School is “not trying to hide this issue. I think that the [administration] did not make this decision lightly. That was my feeling. They knew how much my heart was in this, and it’s kind of a perfect charitable organization for this school to embrace,” she said.
Four of the children in the choir, along with one chaperone, are originally from Liberia, one of the West African countries devastated by the epidemic. The choir, however, has toured the United States since July, far exceeding the incubation period of the Ebola virus. According to the ICN website, choir members never came into contact with Ebola patients and have never exhibited any symptoms.
Despite the scientific consensus that the members of the choir could not be contagious, the School hoped to avoid the panic associated with the virus that has killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa during an outbreak of an unprecedented scale. Sealove pointed out that many parents at a Mississippi school kept their children at home upon learning that the principal had attended a family wedding in Zambia, a country in the south of Africa that has reported no cases of Liberia.
“I would think that there could be some kids who would be fearful. Well, I think it’s natural, when you come right down to it. I think there could have been some parents who could have been fearful [as well],” Sealove said.