Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 31, 2014

Children's choir from Uganda visits Washington

By Linda Wenger | May 12, 2014
Photo by: Linda Wenger These Watoto choir members proclaim that "God Knows Your Name." Watoto's goal is to rescue an individual, raise each one as a leader in their chosen sphere of life so that they, in turn, will rebuild their nations.
Watoto Children's Choir
(Video by: Linda Wenger)

Immanuel Lutheran Church hosted the Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda, Africa, Thursday and Friday, May 8 and 9. Members of the choir include children, age 6 to 12, and a group of adults.

According to a press release, members of the Watoto Children's Choir act as ambassadors to raise awareness about the plight of the orphaned and vulnerable children of Africa. Each child has lost one or both parents and was homeless and hungry until they found a home with the Watoto Children's Villages. Watoto is a holistic child-care solution initiated to serve the dire needs of Africa and her people.

"With its genuine appeal, accompanied by music and dance — an energetic fusion of contemporary gospel and traditional African rhythm — the globally acclaimed Watoto Children's Choir has traveled internationally since 1994 as ambassadors for the millions of children in Africa, orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, war, and poverty," the press release states.

A sanctuary full of people attended a concert on Thursday night. The title of the performance was Beautiful Africa: A New Generation.

When the choir members took to the stage, they were clothed in brilliant jewel-toned costumes, an eye-catching combination of colors and music. The music and the children sang and talked about being saved by Jesus.

During the program, the audience learned there are 14 million orphaned or abandoned children in Africa. Watoto has taken in 3,000 children, and wants to increase that number to 10,000.

One of the adult performers told the audience that she had been saved when she was 8 years old. She has graduated from college, and true to one of Watoto's goals, she wants to be a leader and she wants to improve the lives of Africans.

Throughout the performance the children told the audience their story. One child said he was very sad to wake up each day and wonder if he would find food for the day. Now he has forgotten what it's like to go to bed hungry. An 11-year-old child said he was abandoned at age 4. An 8-year-old girl said she had been left in the care of an older brother who took drugs and abused his brothers and sister.

One child said her life was good. She had enough food to eat and attended school. Then her parents died. She and three siblings went to live with an "auntie" who wasn't able to take care of them. She is excited to be in a home and attending school again.

A boy said his father hanged himself after murdering his mother. "I still miss my mother," he said.

Pastor Maureen Howard said the choir was going to spend some time Friday doing schoolwork. The children continue their education while touring.

The choir arrived in Texas in January and are touring the United States until June 29, 2014.

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