High-energy dancing and upbeat singing allow the Watoto Children’s Choir to deliver a serious message.
The 18-member choir from Uganda are partway through a six month Australian tour and have performed two shows to packed crowds in Ballarat.
Each choir member has lost one or both parents and now lives at the Watoto village, which provides residential care for more than 4000 orphaned or vulnerable children including former child soldiers and those born to rebel leaders during the civil war.
The all-singing, all-dancing stage stars pepper their songs of hope with personal stories, acting as advocates for the millions of other African children who have experienced the same heartbreak, pain and suffering as them.
The choir launched a new concert Signs & Wonders earlier this year and are performing up to six days a week at churches, schools and community groups as they tour Australia.
“This production is going to challenge preconceived ideas about miracles,” said Watoto Choirs creative director James Skinner.
The Watoto Choir has toured the world since 1994 to share the stories of Africa’s orphans and widows.
Since its inception the choir has toured six continents, performing at schools, retirement homes, churches, parliaments, state houses and royal palaces.
A team of adults accompany the young performers around the world and help share Watoto’s vision and mission.
Choir member Roland Amanya, 12, moved into Watoto Village with his mother Stella in 2013 after his father died.
“Since coming to Watoto, we have enjoyed a good life. We were struggling before and my mum didn’t know how we would survive. Now, we have a lovely home, food everyday and I am receiving quality education,” Roland said.
The choir also helps the children develop confidence and boldness, setting them up for success in adulthood. Children who lived at Watoto have gone on to become lawyers, teachers, computer scientists, journalists, farmers and doctors.