Watoto | Uganda children’s choir to raise roof in Songs

Posted January 2, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Charity ~ 3,820 views


By DAVID YONKE | A group of 22 Ugandan orphans is getting ready to fill some Toledo-area churches with enthusiastic songs and dances, raising awareness and funding for African children in need.

The Watoto Children’s Choir, which comes through northwest Ohio periodically, has eight performances scheduled in area churches starting Sunday. The choir heading this way has 11 boys and 11 girls between the ages of 8 and 13, Paula Buzu, the choir’s team leader, said.

“It’s been really good, really exciting,” Ms. Buzu said of the tour that began in September and continues through March 12. “The children have seen many, many things they have never seen before. They saw snow and it really fascinates them. The houses are bigger here, the roads are better, the cars are bigger. They still have that ‘wow’ thing.”

The choir consists of children who lost one or both parents in Uganda’s civil war or to the nation’s HIV/-AIDS pandemic. They undergo five months of choir training through the Watoto Child Care Ministries before leaving Kampala for the tours. Each child can go on only one tour, then they return to Uganda and live in group homes with a house mother and receive an education.

For many of the local churches that will be host to the choir, the current tour is a return engagement.

“We had them here in 2008 and we were so blessed by them that we wanted to bring them back when we had the opportunity,” the Rev. Brad Adams, pastor of Timberlake Church in Holland, said.

The children, who are traveling with 10 adult leaders and workers, usually stay with host families from the churches where they perform. Several members of the choir stayed at Mr. Adams’ house when they were in the Toledo area in 2008.

“It’s a great experience to have them in your home and to interact with them, to spend time with them and talk to them and learn about their culture,” Mr. Adams said. “It’s a real blessing. The only problem is that you want to adopt them all — and you can’t do that, obviously.”

The traveling choir is part of the Watoto Child Care Ministries (Watoto is Swahili for “children”) that was founded by a Canadian missionary couple, the Rev. Gary Skinner and his wife, Marilyn, in 1994. That organization provides housing and education for 2,000 orphans as it continues to add homes and house mothers to serve as many Ugandan orphans as possible. Five choirs tour the world simultaneously to generate funds and keep the public informed of the orphan crisis in Uganda.

UNAIDS reported in 2009 that more than 14 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa have been orphaned by AIDS/HIV.

Watoto Children’s Choir performances are generally free, with no tickets required, but offerings are taken during the event.

“The children have been getting quite a number of sponsorships and we have gotten a very good response despite the economy,” Ms. Buzu said.

Sponsorships help cover child care and educational costs of Ugandan orphans, she said, adding that “our greatest need is for people to sponsor with us and be monthly supporters.”

Here is the schedule for the Watoto Children’s Choir’s northwest Ohio performances:

10 and 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Timberlake Church, 1007 South McCord Rd., Suite 6, Holland. 419-868-1208.

7 p.m. Sunday, Holland Free Methodist Church, 6605 Angola Rd., Holland. 419-865-4640.

6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Toledo Mennonite Church, 5501 Nebraska Ave., Toledo. 419-536-1251.

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Pilgrim Church, 1375 Sylvania Ave., Toledo. 419-478-6012.

7 p.m. Thursday, Trinity Lutheran Church, 410 Taylor St., Delta, Ohio. 419-822-4579.

7 p.m. Jan. 14, Gretna Brethren Church, 1590 Township Rd. 46 South, Bellefontaine, Ohio. 937-592-0186.

6 p.m. Jan. 25, New Life International Church, 1180 West High St., Lima, Ohio. 419-999-1615.

More information is available online at or by calling 813- 948-4343.

Contact David Yonke at: or 419-724-6154.

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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