TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF THIS EVENT CLICK THIS LINK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnRuq5Uz2Pg
The Watoto African Children's Choir was hosted by Zion Lutheran church in Wetaskiwin on March 22nd. The Watoto Choir will be back in Wetaskiwin at Calvary Baptist Church at 7:00 pm on Thursday, April 10th. The choir tours and presentations are an integral part of the Watoto program to “rescue, raise, rebuild” the children and nation of Uganda and Africa.
As the result of HIV/AIDS, poverty and war, 47.5 million African children have been orphaned. By 2011, UN figures indicate that 16.6 million children aged 17 and under have lost their parents to HIV. In 1994, Gary and Marilyn Skinner established Watoto as a compassionate response to this crisis. Today, Watoto is providing for the physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs of more than 2,700 children with the additional goal of providing leadership training so that they may be leaders in rebuilding their nation and all of Africa.
Watoto embraces the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It is structured in three children's villages, with the children living in houses in the village, each house as home for up to eight children and a house mother, the new life-long family for each one in the home. The villages are also involved with agricultural sustainability projects which contribute to Watoto goals in two ways. Interested older children and young adults have the opportunity to learn practical agricultural vocational skills and practices, and the villages work toward becoming self-sustaining in the production of meat, vegetables and dairy products. The agricultural projects currently involve a goat farm and dairy production, vegetable gardens, and a poultry farm. Goats milk is considered the next best thing to mother's milk for babies, good nutrition that reduces illness, and providing their three babies' homes with goat milk from their own farms costs $100,000 per year less than the cost of babies' formula. (I know from experience that goat milk is exceptionally good.) Other sustainability projects include guest-houses, production of promotional merchandise, and timber and metal fabrication units. Each area also contributes to opportunities for vocational training for the older children and young adults.
Watoto also includes provision of medical care, counselling, moral and spiritual discipleship, whatever is needed for sound recovery and development. These services also extend to Living Hope, a program for restoring dignity to vulnerable women. As Marilyn Skinner writes, “Poverty, war, disease and abandonment rob millions of African women of hope and dignity.” Her book “Return to Dignity” tells the stories of a number of women who have found restoration, health, and life with a purpose through Living Hope and its process of restoring dignity. They are heart rending stories of hope fulfilled.
The choir tours obviously contribute considerably to the Watoto organization in raising funds through sponsorships, merchandise sales and other support, and recognition. However, care is taken that the tours also contribute to the over-all development of the children. The current choir tour consists of 22 children and 11 adults, so the children have ample care givers. Their schooling continues while on tour, and they also gain invaluable knowledge of other peoples, cultures, ways of life in other climates in addition to performance skills and stage presence. The tours are planned so that each child gains as much as possible from this broad experience.
For the audience, a Watoto Choir presentation is an exhilarating experience of musical energy, rhythm, and worship combined with brilliantly vibrant colours. It is also the stories of children who have been rescued both physically and spiritually, who have experienced the emotional healing power of Jesus Christ.
Those living within range of Wetaskiwin are fortunate to have another opportunity to attend a Watoto Concert. There is no admission charge, but an offering is taken, and merchandise is available. This choir puts on a performance like no other, one that must be experienced to be appreciated. Again, the Watoto Choir will be at Calvary Baptist Church in Wetaskiwin on April 10 at 7 pm.