Last Saturday, I was invited along to St Martin’s Church in Herne for a very special performance by the Watoto Children’s Choir. As I arrived, the church was quickly filling up and, as the youngsters began to prepare for their performance, it became clear that we were in for a real treat.
Before the singing began, the young choir wandered around the church greeting regular parishioners and visitors with beaming smiles, handshakes, high-fives and hugs. Their enthusiasm and obvious happiness was really infectious. As they chatted with just about everyone present, there was a real sense of joy in the air.
So, who are Watoto?
Watoto is a family of people from all over the world who are working together to ensure that the forgotten have a place to belong. In a time of civil war, they founded Watoto Church in Kampala, Uganda to speak hope and life to the nation.
Founded in 1994 and operating as a non-profit organisation, Watoto is a holistic child care ministry birthed out of a local church in Kampala, Uganda. It was initiated as a response to the growing number of orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda. Since it was founded, Watoto has placed thousands of orphans in families, empowered vulnerable women to reach their communities, rescued babies and former child soldiers, and sent children’s choirs across six continents.
Watoto provides physical, educational, spiritual and emotional care for vulnerable children. Currently, Watoto is caring for approximately 1,800 orphans in Uganda. Watoto is restoring hope and dignity to vulnerable women and war-affected children by providing quality education, marketable vocational skills, trauma rehabilitation, life skills training and discipleship.
The choir is made up of children of all ages who travel the world as ambassadors of hope for Africa’s orphaned and vulnerable. And what a fantastic job they are doing.
The youngsters are extremely talented and put on a fantastic show. The songs were performed impeccably with great choreography. They were all a credit to Watoto and had the audience standing in the aisles, dancing and clapping along, throughout the afternoon.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time watching and meeting these fantastic young ambassadors and their choir leader, Tony. The performance was as uplifting as it was entertaining and everyone really seemed to be enjoying themselves.
There was a serious message behind the afternoon’s performance though, and the singing and dancing was interspersed with more sombre stories and recordings detailing some of the tragic back-stories of the Watoto families.
Although the videos were upsetting, there was a positive message flowing throughout, with many success stories being shared. Watoto really are changing lives for many, many children and young women in Uganda.
After the performance, all members of the choir and the adults from Watoto remained in the church to speak with guests and audience members about their personal stories and how Watoto has helped support and empower them.
I would like to thank Revd. Carol Smith, the parishioners, guests and especially the Watoto Children’s Choir for inviting me along to this fantastic event – I thoroughly enjoyed myself and look forward to visiting again soon.
If you would like to find out more about Watoto, please click on the link – https://www.watoto.com/
You can also find them on Social Media – links are available on their website.
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