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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Seriously, We Need Sponsors

Our campaign hero, Brian Muwanguzi (meaning winner or victor), is an average African boy who lives in Watoto’s Bbira Village. He is 8 years old and dreams of making people beautiful (buut-i-full). He wants to be a hairdresser.

Or a police officer.
Or a teacher… Baby Watoto caregiver? Or a… farmer?
Let’s just say that Brian has many dreams.

As Brian lives from day to day in his beautiful village, he happily explores all the possibilities his bright future holds. For now, Brian’s natural gifting has made way for his current, full-time role of Chief Village Comedian. He has an extraordinary talent to effortlessly make people laugh. He is an absolutely key asset to the well being of all of us here at Watoto.

Being in the company of this humorous young boy, one would never suspect that his young life has already been plagued with immense pain.

Brian and his brother Caleb (9) were born to a violent father, who repeatedly abused them. With daily bruises and no way of learning how not to set off their dad’s temper, neither of the boys had any hope of a different life.

Until one day, when concerned neighbours eventually contacted the local welfare authorities. The matter was looked into and authorities asked Watoto to help. Brian and Caleb’s lives have completely turned around. Not only are they well cared for, nurtured and no longer afraid; they have found hope.

Brian has a unique talent for making people laugh, despite the fact that he had no reason to smile for the first five years of his life. Today, he has a big, bright smile and has exchanged the bruises of his past for the desire to make people beautiful.

As children grow up, they are full of dreams and desires. The possibilities before them are endless. But for thousands of children in Africa, these dreams will never be realised. Some have lost their parents through war, disease and poverty. Others are left abandoned and vulnerable through other devastating circumstances.

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In 2009, Brian and his brother were rescued and brought into a home with a loving mother and siblings in Watoto’s Bbira Village. Watoto has given Brian and thousands of other children a chance at a normal life; the chance to dream.

This would not be possible without the support of thousands of individuals who sponsor children through Watoto. Change the life of a child in Africa. Sponsor a child, change a story and impact a nation. Go to www.watoto.com/sponsorship.

A Celebration Of Our Father’s Love

Africa has a unique expression of worship. It’s communal, a unity of voices expressing the different challenges that people face. Even without musical instruments, Africans will create music using whatever they have within reach, and they will make a joyful noise to the Lord. “The kind of atmosphere of worship they create is contagious, and it creates an effect in others,” says James Skinner, Creative Director: Watoto Children’s Choir.

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Oh, What Love has brought out the unique God-given talents of young Africans to express the hope and massive hearts of worship. Almost twenty local songwriters have contributed to crafting songs that share the stories of the orphan child and God’s love through worship. Each song in the production challenges our personal relationship with God as our Father by reminding us of His perfect love for us, through Christ. “This is not just the Watoto story, its God’s story,” says Roy Kaddu, one of the contributing songwriters. “I believe that we are all orphans in one way or another.”

Oh, What Love is based on 1 John 3:1 (ESV) which says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we shall be called children of God, and so we are.” Each Watoto child has experienced separation. With no one to look after them, many were forced to a life on the streets where they scavenged for food in garbage pits, and slept under the cold blanket of the night. Some lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, and others were abandoned as babies in hospitals or police stations. This caused the loss of their identity, sense of belonging and love. But because of our Father’s love, Watoto rescued them and now their lives have been restored.

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“There’s a kind of joy that they have experienced. They are happy regardless of what they have been through. A child will amaze you and tell you, ‘I’m not an orphan because I know who my Father is,” expresses Faridah Janai, another contributing writer and adult chaperone. As the children sing and dance to the songs, they also connect with the heart of God. Watoto helps them understand that through Christ, we find healing, purpose, identity and the right to be heirs.

“When I sing ‘Healing is in Your Hands’, I feel like praying. I feel as if God is holding out his hand to me,” expresses Angelina Nyiramutuzo, an 11 year-old child who will be travelling to the UK in January.

Since 1994, the Watoto choirs have been telling the story of orphans rescued by Watoto. Through dance and music, they share a message of hope. However Oh, What Love is more than just the children performing on stage, it’s the Father reaching out to every individual through the children to change people’s lives.

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Oh, What Love will be travelling to the UK, the U.S. And Canada in January, 2015. Book now www.watoto.com/the-choir/book-the-choir to host the choir in your country.