The Watoto Children’s Choir tells stories through song and dance
The Watoto Children’s Choir takes upbeat music and traditional African rhythms and tells a story through song, dance and personal anecdotes from the children about their lives in Africa.
“The children are serving as child ambassadors,” explains Jeanine Bedell, the communications director for Watoto’s U.S. office, “and their goal is to raise awareness for the plight of orphans in Africa who have yet to be rescued, as well as to share their own stories of transformation and hope that they’ve experienced.”
The choir itself was created back in 1994 when Watoto childcare ministries first started. “We have about five choirs that travel globally each year,” says Bedell. “Each choir is made up of 22 children. This choir — the one that you will see [in Augusta] — ranges in age from 6 to15.”
In addition to the children, there are 10 adults who travel with the choir as chaperones who are also part of the performance.
What should the audience expect to see?
“The choir performance itself is more of a Broadway style production of song and dance than it is what you would expect a choir to be like,” explains Bedell. “It’s very upbeat and inspiring and very eye-opening. The audience will see children sharing their true stories of lives that have been affected by poverty, war, disease — and now they have a hope for their future and a positive outlook that you wouldn’t expect an individual to describe based on their backgrounds.”
Gideon Kizito is a choir leader who is on his fifth tour with the Watoto Children’s Choir.
“It is a good experience,” he says. “It is a growth experience — helps me realize how blessed I am to have a family, to have identity, to have people I call friends, to have food to eat, to have clothes to wear, things that most people, children don’t have. This experience has taught me to be grateful for what I have.”
Kizito also says that the children have really good attitudes.
“They’ve come from different hard paths,” he explains, “so, when they get into something like this their attitudes are really good, being restored, and being rescued, and being given the life they need. Their attitudes are very good.”
There are also challenges involved, but Kizito says they don’t focus on those. They just focus on what is positive and keep moving.
Maria Namukwaya, a 9-year-old girl in the choir, really enjoys her role.
“I love it! I like to sing for the people,” she says. “It is nice to be in the choir. I like meeting different folks from Uganda and singing different things together.”
Maria says she also enjoys traveling and that New York has been her favorite place so far. She’s been on tour with the choir for 16 weeks.
So what’s with the name?
“Watoto is a Swahili word that means ‘the children,’” explains Bedell. “Watoto was started by two missionaries, Gary and Marilyn Skinner. They came over from Canada to Uganda in 1994, to address the Ugandan orphan crisis.”
Watoto Childrens Choir
Restore Presbyterian Korean Church, Augusta
Thursday, February 7, 7 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church, Augusta
Friday, February 8, 6:30 p.m.
Free | watoto.com/the-choir You Might Also Like: