Not many citizens have experienced as much suffering as the people of Uganda. Corrupt dictators and politicians have waged wars against their own people, trying to stop — or aid — the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army), a ruthless guerrilla, guilty of recruiting children as soldiers.
Thankfully, the LRA no longer resides in Uganda, but the community has been scarred. The Gasparilla Film Festival teamed up with the non-profit aid organization Watoto to bring the movie Restore Gulu: Child Soldier No More and a performance by the world renound Watoto Children’s Choir.
The Watoto Children’s Choir delivered a lively performance at Tampa Theatre. The choir comprises orphans ages 6-15 who have been greatly affected by war, who sang songs and told stories of the real-life struggles. Their performance, however was a positive one — about Beautiful Africa! — as one boy shrieked during the intro. Between ultra-happy, Jesus-y tunes, the children gave heart-rending accounts of abandonment, loss and violence — realities that children shouldn't have to endure. It was at once difficult to see kids with adorable Swahili accents tell such stories but inspiring to see them rejoice despite their memories, and their spirit moved the audience, as well.
Christian Non-profits like Watoto have helped Ugandan children greatly. These kids now have an opportunity to grow up healthy and to rebuild their lives.
They are becoming positive individuals, sharing their experiences and wisdom with the world. Through rhythmical songs and dances.
The Watoto Children’s Choir has traveled internationally since 1994 advocating for more than 50 million orphaned children in Africa, as a result of HIV/AIDS, war, poverty and disease.
It has performed for the Queen of England at Buckingham, as well as for former President George W. Bush in the White House.
Each of the children in the choir has suffered the loss of their parents either through war or disease. They live in the Watoto children’s villages.
The experience gives the children exposure to other cultures broadening their worldview. It also gives them confidence and boldness and helps them overcome their own situations of sadness and despair.
Watoto means "child" in Swahili. Through the context of the vision of Watoto, the word has become synonymous to holistic ministry or a comprehensive care for the whole being of an individual.
The Watoto mission is not simply about saving as many orphaned children and vulnerable women as possible. It is also about raising them to become future leaders who will bring sustainable change in their nations.