By ANNELISA SITSHEFUTA
Upon visiting South Africa the Watoto Children’s Choir performed at Cornerstone Assembly of God in Port Elizabeth. Port Elizabeth was their second stop since they came to South Africa, stopping first in Cape Town, where they recorded their live DVD for this year’s tour.
The choir immediately impressed audiences with their vibrancy and outstanding musical talent. Children blessed with such beautiful voices, you can never imagine the stories they share about their lives. The Watoto Children’s Choir sing their hearts out as they worship and praise God for what He has done in their lives.
In 1984, in the midst of Uganda’s bloody civil war, many children became orphans as their parents were killed in the war, while some were orphaned because their parents died of HIV/Aids.
Gary and Marlyn Skinner, a couple in the ministry, were called on to help many of the orphaned and starving children abandoned and left to feed and protect themselves. Realizing the enormity of the task Gary and his wife, with the help of others, came up with a unique approach. The only way to make a meaningful difference was to impact the lives of these children, one child at a time.
In 1993 in Uganda, Gary and Marlyn rented a house, in the village of Gulu, where they took care of 16 kids at first. They believe that starting small is what has made it possible to take care of so many children today.
“Inspired by the singing of one small boy, we formed the first Watoto Children’s Choir to show the world that Africa’s most vulnerable children have, beauty, dignity and unlimited ability,” said Gary.
As they come from the neediest families, the Watoto Children’s Choir is committed to helping choir children physically, spiritually, emotionally and academically, giving each child an opportunity to reach their God-given potential.
Selection into the Watoto Children’s Choir means a long term commitment and investment as the children are supported right through their secondary and post-secondary education. Scholarships, school visits, camps and counselling are just some of the examples of support given. The African chaperones currently travelling with the choir are only a few of the many graduates who were once part of the Watoto Children’s Choir.
These children’s hope has been renewed by the Watoto Program, when you see them they are no longer victims to HIV/Aids, poverty, prostitution, being child soldiers. All they want in life is to be the best that they can be. They want to do more with their lives. Watoto has nearly rebuilt the lives of these children. These children have been rescued from despair to a life with hope and a future.