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Watoto Children's Choir

21 June 2011

Cape Town, South Africa, 6th June - Watoto, a holistic care programme, initiated to serve the needs of Africa and her people, is thrilled to present the Watoto Children’s Choir in the Gauteng area, performing at Nelson Mandela Square on National Youth Day, 16th of June.

Cape Town, South Africa, 6th June - Watoto, a holistic care programme, initiated to serve the needs of Africa and her people, is thrilled to present the Watoto Children’s Choir in the Gauteng area, performing at Nelson Mandela Square on National Youth Day, 16th of June.

 The choir will perform over lunchtime by the well-known 6meter bronze statue of Nelson Mandela to celebrate the passion, inspiration and enthusiasm that many of our youth demonstrate. Each member of the choir has a story to share of hard times, but also have a story to share of hope that they have found and that they are the next generation of African leaders.


With its genuine appeal, accompanied by music and dance - an energetic fusion of contemporary gospel and traditional African rhythm - the globally acclaimed Watoto Children’s Choirs have travelled internationally since 1994 as ambassadors for the 47.5 million children in Africa, orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, war, poverty and disease. 

Accompanied by a team of adults, the choirs present Watoto’s vision and mission through their stories, music and dance. They rally support for Watoto projects on the ground in Africa by raising awareness and funds.

Each of the children in the choir has suffered the loss of one or both parents. They live in Watoto Children’s Villages where they receive the care and nurture they need to grow up as productive citizens of their country. Choir members are selected by an audition process and have the opportunity to travel once.

Since its inception, 49 choirs have travelled globally, providing the children with a bigger world view. Four choirs are currently on the road in Australia, Canada, Europe and the USA.

The 48th choir started its nationwide tour of South Africa in February 2011, covering mostly the Western Province, Plettenbery, Port Elizabeth, East London and the Durban area. They performed at the Design Indaba, on Table Mountain, UCT, Red Cross Hospital, Allee Bleue Wine Estate, Hillsong Church Cape Town, One & Only Hotel and the Cape Town Festival. In the Durban area, they performed at the Playhouse with Philharmonic Orchestra and Drakensberg Boys’ Choir, uShaka World, Oysterbox with John Smith, Sharks vs Bulls game at Kings Park and with the Kearsney Choir.

The choir has also had several media appearances on SABC News, the Expresso Show, Goodhope FM, Heart FM, CCFM, Weekend Argus, Cape Talk Radio, and the May issue of Joy Magazine. 

Watoto is currently caring for over 4,000 orphans and vulnerable children; and women in Uganda where it has been in existence for over 17 years. The programme is now expanding into Southern Africa to provide holistic care to the numerous vulnerable children and women in Southern Africa. Among the first key projects to be implemented in South Africa are Baby Watoto (www.watoto.com/babywatoto), designed to rescue abandoned and destitute babies and Living Hope (www.watoto.com/livinghope) a rehabilitation programme for vulnerable women, including HIV+ women, single mothers and victims of human trafficking.

Watoto Children’s Choir Live Performances in South Africa 2011

  • 22 February – 3 April Western Province (Cape Town)
  • 4 April – 2 May Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth and East London
  • 2 May – 6 June Kwazulu Natal (Durban area)
  • 6 June – 31 July Gauteng (Johannesburg area)

Their audiences have included princes and paupers, warming many hearts wherever they go. Visit http://watotochoirs.wordpress.com for regular updates on choirs on the road.  Go the www.watoto.com/choir for the full itinerary.

Editor’s Notes:

About Watoto

Watoto is an holistic care programme that was as a response to the overwhelming number of orphaned and vulnerable children and women in Uganda. It is positioned to rescue an individual, raise each one as a leader in their chosen sphere of life so that they in turn will rebuild their nation.

The model involves physical care, medical intervention including HIV/AIDS treatment, education - formal and vocational - counselling and emotional wellbeing as well as moral and spiritual discipleship.

Having built an accountable, effective model over the last 15 years, Watoto aims to care for 10,000 children by 2023 and to replicate the model in other countries in Africa so as to fast track the rescue of orphaned and vulnerable children and women in Africa.

For more information, log onto www.watoto.com.

About Watoto Projects

Watoto Children’s Villages

Watoto is not an orphanage in the traditional sense. Real homes are built to cater for children who have lost their family or are vulnerable for many reasons.

Each Watoto family consists of a house mother who takes care of up to 8 children (2-years-old and above). The homes are constructed in the form of small, vibrant communities referred to as villages.

Each village contains a nursery school, a kindergarten, primary school, high school, water project, medical clinic and a multi-purpose hall for use as a church and community centre. The village provides safe and open outdoor spaces with beautiful vegetation and plenty of space to live and play.

Build teams travelling from all over the globe have generously donated their time and effort to creating sturdy homes along with our construction team. Mothers and children are supported through the Watoto sponsorship programme.

Currently, Watoto has three children’s villages; one in Gulu, northern Uganda and two in Kampala, Uganda, looking after over 2,000 children.

Baby Watoto
There are many babies in Africa who have been abandoned or left vulnerable due to war, poverty, lack of education and the HIV/AIDS crisis. Almost all of them fail to make it to their 5th birthday because their immediate relatives cannot provide much needed care and medical attention.

Baby Watoto was initiated to provide critical care to destitute babies aged 0-2 years, giving them the best possible start in life. When they are older and physically well enough, they either graduate to a Watoto children’s village or are reunited with existing relatives. Currently, Watoto was has three Baby Watoto facilities in Uganda.

The babies come to Watoto from a number of different referral sources such as hospitals, local authorities, the police, child protection units, good samaritans or other homes and care organisations.

Education – Formal and Technical Education
Watoto’s key mandate is to raise the next generation of African leaders by pursuing excellence in academic and practical skills; integrity in conduct and moral values, so that each child will become a responsible Christian and a productive citizen of Uganda.

Watoto builds its own schools and finds qualified teachers to educate the children.

Watoto currently operates three primary schools, two secondary schools and one vocational school. These co-educational schools are situated in the Watoto children’s villages.

Medical Intervention
Watoto children’s villages operate clinics/medical centres that provide basic health services to Watoto children, mothers and other residents, as well the surrounding communities.

There are also thousands of victims requiring surgical intervention in Uganda, particularly in the northern part of the country. In addition to those suffering from war wounds and burns, there are many who have been mutilated or facially disfigured and require reconstructive surgery. The wounds and scars are a constant reminder of their past and they’re also part of the reason for the harsh rejection they receive from their community and family.

Watoto provides opportunities for these individuals to undergo reconstructive surgery. The surgeries contribute to the restoration, not only of their essential physical features, but also more importantly to their dignity and livelihood.

We are currently working with local and international doctors and medical teams to bring healing to these precious people.

Trauma Rehabilitation
Watoto is actively involved in the psychosocial wellbeing of the community that has been devastated by war, poverty and disease. Over the past two years, more than 7,000 people have accessed Watoto’s trauma rehabilitation services. The long-term goal is to set up a Trauma Rehabilitation Centres where comprehensive trauma counselling and training can be given.

Living Hope – reaching vulnerable women
The most marginalised and wounded people in Africa are women. Living Hope is a Watoto programme, launched to restore the lives of these women. Initiated in early 2008, the programme is currently committed to transforming the lives of more than 2,100 women in Uganda.

Left abandoned or widowed, the target group is HIV+ single women, returnees from abduction into the rebel army in northern Uganda and teenage mothers.

The goal is to restore dignity to these women in the following ways:

  • By improving quality of life, assisting them with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care
  • Providing comprehensive HIV/AIDS care including counselling and psychosocial support
  • Spiritual and moral discipleship
  • Empowering and equipping with vocational skills that will enable them to become productive members of their community
  • Setting up self sustainable income generating projects using micro-finance loans

Project Gulu
The war is over in northern Uganda, but the effects of war are recurring in this region and it’s surrounds. Orphaned and abandoned children with one skill – to survive whatever the cost… Child mothers with no skill – HIV+, some mutilated and disfigured... Men without purpose or hope… A community left desperate and despondent.

Watoto set out to work alongside the local Government in this region to identify the core needs of the community for the purpose of healing and restoration both individually and as a community.

Watoto’s Project Gulu focuses on four core areas:

  • Trauma rehabilitation of former child soldiers, but also the rest of the community who have been significantly affected by war
  • Medical intervention including HIV treatment, reconstructive surgery and assistance with local medical facilities
  • Education – specifically vocational and technical
  • Transformation of society through support with town planning and strategic partnerships

Self-Sustainability
The Watoto mission is not simply about saving as many orphaned and vulnerable children and women as possible. It is also about raising them up to become future leaders who will bring sustainable change in their nation.

As we look to fulfill the vision to rescue two million children in Africa by 2023 through the replication of the Watoto model, there is a need to introduce a broader range of income streams to support operating costs.

So far, Watoto has a small-scale farm that is a starter to generate self-sustainable funding. We have harvested beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, pineapples and maize. Other projects include Watoto guest houses, promotional merchandise, timber & metal fabrication unit and goat farm.

Watoto in South Africa
Watoto is expanding its operations out of its home country, Uganda into Cape Town, South Africa. Replicating the model in Cape Town will mean the accelerated rescue of vulnerable women and children like we’ve never seen before on the African. Watoto Founder, Gary Skinner comments: “It has long been a dream of ours to see the Watoto model replicated across our beloved continent.”

As an introduction of Watoto in Southern Africa, Watoto Children’s Choir is currently on six months tour of the country, sharing the vision and message of hope in the Western Province (Cape Town, Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth and East London, Kwazulu Natal (Durban area) and Gauteng (Johannesburg area).

Among the first projects to be implemented on the ground are Baby Watoto designed to rescue orphaned and destitute babies and Watoto360 a discipleship training course, set to equip young people in practical Christian living. For more information, go to www.watoto.com/southafrica.

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