From orphans to musical sensation, from hopelessness to ambassadors of hope for others, the Watoto Children’s Choir sang and danced before a packed, standing room only crowd at ACANA Hall on Saturday Nov. 17.
Wearing colorful African costumes, the dozen or so children from Uganda’s Watoto Village shared their stories of hope and rescue with their Philadelphia audience in an effort to raise awareness about the plight of Uganda’s orphan children.
One child was moved to tears as she spoke of watching her sister die because they couldn’t afford money for the basic medicine, which would have saved her life. Another spoke about being abandoned by father who left her mother and siblings alone to fend for themselves.
Although there were heartfelt stories of pain and suffering, the performance was no sad occasion as the festive musical performances and songs of praise and gratitude to God, spoke of a world of hope and possibility.
One performer, Maria, 9, is a recent member of Watoto and has been performing with the choir for a month.
“It is nice because I am enjoying our corsettes,” she said.
And so did Elvis, 10, who also has performed with the choir for a month.
“I like it because I enjoy dancing,” said Elvis, who said although he has only traveled with the choir a month, he has been dancing for seven months.
Asked about the difficulties in preparing for the U.S. tour, Elvis said it wasn’t very difficult because he enjoys singing and dancing.
“I enjoy traveling around,” he said.
Lutankon, 10, says he has been with Watoto for 9 years.
“I like Watoto because I get to study and they give me what I need,” he said.
Lutankon has traveled to such places as New York, New Jersey and Massachusettes.
“I like traveling because I have fun and I like traveling with them [the other members of the choir],” he said.
There was an opportunity for the audience to sponsor Ugandan orphans. Members of the audience enthusiastically responded.
Watoto was founded by Canadian missionaries Gary and Marilyn Skinner in 1994 in response to the Ugandan orphan crisis. The Watoto village was created to provide holistic care for the children who are given food, clothing, shelter and education.