Singing a message of hope for a better Africa, the Watoto Children’s Choir is a song of victory

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In a country ravaged by war, civil unrest, poverty and disease, approximately 47.5 million orphans live in Sub-Saharan Africa, one-quarter of them have lost parents to AIDS. More than 2.5 million of these children live in Uganda.

In a country ravaged by war, civil unrest, poverty and disease, approximately 47.5 million orphans live in Sub-Saharan Africa, one-quarter of them have lost parents to AIDS. More than 2.5 million of these children live in Uganda.

Watoto, in Swahili means children and the Watoto Villages, founded in 1994 by Gary and Marilyn Skinner, had a vision to “Rescue, Raise and Rebuild” orphaned children, abandoned babies, child soldiers and vulnerable women. Watoto Villages, sprang from its local Watoto Church and is giving orphans a home, abandoned children a chance, and women the power live in a self sustaining environment.

On Thursday, Jan. 16, the Watoto Children’s Choir performed at the Kaleo Church in El Cajon. With 22 children, ages 7-14, this is their first seven-month world tour. Robert Scendegeya, choir director, said that all you have to do is look at the children’s faces and listen to their testimonies to see the impact that Watoto Villages has made in their lives.

In watching the children perform Christian spiritual songs with the culture of Africa, it is difficult to believe that 13-year-old Joel’s father was abducted by soldier forces, his mother dead from AIDS and his grandparents to old and poor to take care of him. Robina, 10, never knew her parents and lived a life with no clothes, only one meal a day if she were fortunate and never went to school before she began life at the Watoto Village. 

These children sang their hearts to God and the audience to help bring awareness and support to continue the work of the Watoto Villages.

The children brought the audience to their feet, and many times to tears. With a blend of Christian gospel music and cultural African rhythm, this group of children entertained, inspired and educated the crowd with smiles on their faces and testimonials to their faith.

Watoto’s mission is to rescue, raise them to be leaders and build a new generation that can rebuild Africa from a long history of human carnages.

Watoto Children’s Villages are a sanctuary for children providing peace, security, education and a purpose. Children 2-12 are accepted into the village and given a home with a housemother and up to seven siblings. It is a permanent family whom they will live with until they graduate.

Baby Watoto is a home for abandoned babies and toddlers. Found in garbage heaps, trashcans or abandoned at hospitals and police stations, it takes in babies and raises them until they join a family.

Living Hope, is dedicated to abandoned, widowed and women that are HIV+. It teaches them a trade, gives medical intervention and empowers them with income generating projects through microfinance loans.

Project Gulu, takes in the many children abducted and turned into soldiers under the oppression of the Lord’s Resistance Army and provides them with trauma rehabilitation, medical intervention and works to rebuild them into fruitful citizens in the community.

Kaleo Church Pastor Tim Cain said he and his wife have been to Uganda twice and seen the work that they do there. “We get to see what God is doing all around the world,” he said.

To find out more about Watoto Villages and how to help go to Watoto.com, follow them on Facebook at WatotoUS or Twitter @WatotoUS.

Kaleo Church has services on Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 190 E. Douglas Ave., in El Cajon.