Clad in traditional African attire, a group of 11 young boys and 11 girls, former Ugandan orphans, danced and sang together. The joy of song, coordinated with original dance, brought the audience to a stand as the music united them.
Saturday evening, at the Trinity Lutheran Church located on Stuart Street, Watoto Children’s Choir performed their second-to-last concert after six months of touring in the United States. On July 3, they will return home to Uganda, Africa.
Watoto, a church community, was founded in 1994 by Gary Skinner, who, through travel and living in Uganda, witnessed struggles that Africa was facing. Specifically in Uganda, many children lost parents to HIV or AIDS, and many more children were forced to fight civil wars.
According to Watoto.com, over 14 million children lived without parents and more than 20,000 children were forced into warfare.
Watoto houses many orphaned children, along with women, giving them access to food, water, health care, education and a church community.
Since 1994, over 1,000 former Ugandan orphans have traveled internationally, performing concerts to raise awareness of the state of their nation.
“Over the six months we have been through Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and more, but the best part is seeing how the kids transform and become leaders,” said Phillip Mugerwa, a group leader.
Mugerwa received a college education in statistics through Makerere University in Uganda but has spent the last several years donating his time to Watoto.
“Children are given a chance because of Watoto, and the choir experience raises them into leaders of Africa. The children are the next generation – Africa’s future,” Mugerwa said.
Watoto Children’s Choir perform at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Colins, Colorado on Saturday, June 28, 2014.
Video credit: Josephine Bush
Irene Aguti, 12, one of the 11 females in the choir, said her life has altered from one of loss to one filled with hope and joy.
“I got to know Jesus,” Aguti said. “He filled me with hope.”
According to Aguti, she became very close with those she traveled with, but her most memorable moment was seeing snow in Oklahoma for the first time.
“But I love Colorado,” Aguti said. “The mountains here are so beautiful.”
According to 9-year-old Kennedy, Watato brings a taste of Africa across the United States.
“We get to be together, we love to make a lot of noise, and we sing and we dance,” Kennedy said.
Kids who have been robbed of their childhoods have been able to find a future, according to Mugerwa.
“The kids really grow into themselves, be real children,” Murgerwa said. “They come out and become confident with who they are.”
Collegian Senior Reporter Josephine Bush can be reached at email@example.com.