Drummer Boy

In Africa drums are a part of every little boy’s life. The beat of the drum is entrenched in him. So much so, that he will use any element around to create sound. Stephen Ochan is an African boy, and part of the Watoto Children’s Choir travelling to UK and Europe in January 2015.

“I have always admired people who play drums. Back in the village, we would pretend that jerry cans (water containers) were drums. I dreamed of that one day I would have professional drums that I could play. That’s why I am so excited that I am one of the boys who is chosen to play drums on choir tour,” he says.

While on tour, Stephen will share the transformation that happened in his life when he joined the Watoto family.

Stephen lost his parents to AIDS, leaving him and his siblings in the care of their frail grandmother. AIDS has orphaned many children in Africa, rendering them helpless, and without any hope of fulfilling their purpose.

Stephen represents many children, who without God’s intervention through Watoto, would have no hope. But Stephen’s story has changed.

“I don’t remember my parents. I remember my grandmother. We stayed with her until we joined Watoto,” says Stephen.

At their grandmother’s, the children often went without food. She was sickly and unable to provide for their needs. Local authorities were told about their story and Watoto was contacted thereafter. Stephen and his siblings joined the Watoto family in Gulu soon after.

Stephen currently stays in Watoto’s Laminadera Village in Gulu, northern Uganda. His dream is to become a pilot and a footballer. He will be travelling in the all-new Watoto Children’s Choir production, Oh, What Love in 2015. Find out more here.

This World AIDS Day (1 December 2014), we’re asking you to change the stories of other AIDs-effected children like Stephen by sponsoring a child. Click here and change a story today.

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A New Sound From the Heart of Africa

Africa is growing to greatness. In today’s Africa, people are migrating from their villages to the ever-growing metropolitan cities. They are increasingly connected with what’s happening outside the borders of their homes, cities and countries. Innovation and modernity are central to the new African lifestyle.

During the day, the streets are bustling as people rush to catch the next bus to their work places. By evening, as offices close, people dash out to socialise on sidewalks, lined with the latest shoes and designer bags, and vendors who are ready with roasted meat. Music blasts from every corner of the city, and somewhere a new and unique sound is heard. It’s a colourful blend of traditional drums vibrating in motion to the rhythm of synthesizers. A fusion of exotic melodies and electronic instruments, which convey joy and express the life of a new Africa.

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This is the sound of Oh, What Love – Watoto’s latest music album, which will be performed by the Watoto Children’s Choir in 2015. Watoto’s hope is that the music will travel everywhere, that it will permeate people’s cars, schools, churches and homes, and reach out to different generations.

Oh, What Love is a fresh production right from the heart of Africa, produced and written locally, and performed by the children of Mother Africa. It is the kind of music that will connect the children on stage with the heart of people in the audience.

“We have embraced a lot of modern beats, but have not forgotten our roots. This is a new kind of Watoto that the world needs to know,” says Comfort Asianzu.

When people listen to African music they expect to hear drums, harmonies and melodies in the vocals. This new production offers all of that and more. Watoto has synced African elements with modern concepts to create an Afro-Urban sound.

Africa is a diverse continent, with different cultures and beliefs, but we find unity in our music. “In this production, we have used a number of different languages from different groups across Uganda. We all feel represented,” says Roy Kaddu.

New beats are evolving throughout the week, fleshed out with heartfelt harmonies to create powerful songs of worship and celebration. These songs tell the story of separation, suffering, redemption and restoration in the lives of children who were once orphaned. Take a sneak peek of what’s to come in this video.

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Oh, What Love will be travelling to the UK, USA and Canada in January 2015. Book the choir here.

Watoto Boy Meets Sponsor

5 years ago, The Watoto Children’s Choir was travelling around Beaubier, SK in Canada and Donna Coker chose to sponsor Watoto Child, Michael Okello.

Donna had the rare opportunity of meeting Michael in person while he was travelling with Choir 53 in Canada.

“Meeting Michael was almost like a dream, but it really hit home. The impact of such a small commitment can truly make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes when I tell someone I sponsor a child they say, “I wouldn’t sponsor a child because I don’t know where my money is going!” I can now respond, “I know! I saw a healthy, happy young boy with high expectations of a great future!” Says Donna. Read full story

We are grateful to all our sponsors and donors around the world who have made a difference in the lives of Watoto Children. To sponsor a child today, go to www.watoto.com/sponsorship.

To follow the choirs, go to Watoto Choirs blog and to experience the choir in your area, and meet some of the children, go to watoto.com/the-choir/see-the-choir.