Uganda’s Watoto Children’s Choir is touring Australia to showcase their talent and share a message of hope and love.
Watoto is a community church in Uganda, East Africa. Watoto is a Swahili word that stands for children. In 1984 Gary and Marilyn Skinner moved from Canada to Uganda and founded a local church ‘Watoto’ in the capital, Kampala, during the civil war. In 1988, in a small town called Rakai in Uganda, Gary Skinner faced a reality that he could not ignore, seeing abandoned children because their mothers didn’t have the resources to keep them. They turned the Watoto church into a community to support the children and vulnerable women.
Uganda’s people had suffered so much. The lord’s resistance army, one of Africa’s longest-surviving rebel groups, had terrorised parts of central Africa for 30 years, becoming notorious for kidnappings, massacres, mutilations and the forced enrolment of children. They had waged ruthless wars against the people and when they were done with their slaughter, approximately a million Ugandans were dead.
Since then Watoto has placed thousands of orphans in families, empowered women to reach out to their communities, rescued child soldiers and orphaned babies. Team leader Richard Achum says Watoto church has worked alongside the most vulnerable in society. He’s said that their main target is to rescue and help individuals and help raise each one as a leader in his or her sphere.
The Watoto church then started a choir, comprising mainly children who were homeless and orphaned as a result of the war that ransacked the northern part of Uganda. Since 1994 Watoto children choir-have toured internationally as ambassadors of Watoto.
The video showcases stories of two young orphans, Ivan and Christian talking about their life experience and testimony on how Watoto has impacted their lives today.
Watoto performed in Brisbane and Perth before continuing to Melbourne where they were hosted by various churches who have also helped raise funds to support Watoto’s work.
Jenny flew in from Perth, Western Australia to Maroondah City Church in Melbourne to come and visit Philip who she has been sponsoring for the last seven years. Jenny says these ‘Concerts of hope’ are a lively demonstration of life-changing experience by the children of Watoto.
Israel Amutuaire, the choir’s guitarist, says Watoto benefits the children and the community socially, academically, emotionally and spiritually and is designed to equip and train them as future leaders.
Watoto neighborhood is a community in Uganda comprising the most marginalised and wounded women in Uganda. Most of them were left abandoned and widowed and many are HIV positive. These women are desperate and destitute, living with the fear that their children will one day become orphans. Through the Watoto neighborhood, the most vulnerable women are empowered and are able to engage with their children within the community.
Richard says there are many opportunities to sponsor mothers especially the ones facing physical, financial and emotional hardship. Watoto children’s choir sends the message through their singing and dancing talent to help seek refuge for abandoned babies and vulnerable children. Richard says that through Watoto’s talents, a message is sent that, a ‘little is a lot’; the donations and sponsorship they receive has helped educate and empower their children homes and helped mothers and vulnerable women. He says Watoto is raising transformation leaders, who will impact positively every sphere of society, reforming Uganda and serving as a model for the rest of Africa.
“The best way to for you to see the impact and achievements of Watoto is to come to and visit us in Uganda,” said Richard. He said that teams and individuals could be directly involved in various projects such as medical projects, building and repairs, children’s camps, sports development, Baby Watoto and many more activities. He said that each person, church, organisation could also raise funds for the projects they choose to participate in. Short term and long term volunteering opportunities are also available.
When you partner with Watoto through sponsorship, you agree to make a regular contribution that enables Watoto to rescue abandoned children and vulnerable women. It costs $43 a month to sponsor a mother or child through Watoto. Please follow the link and save a life at https://www.watoto.com/give/sponsor/