HIGH SPIRITS: Members of the Watoto choir from Uganda warm up for their Grafton performance at the community centre.
HIGH SPIRITS: Members of the Watoto choir from Uganda warm up for their Grafton performance at the community centre. Adam Hourigan

Watoto Children's Choir brings spirit of Africa to Grafton

GRAFTON was treated with an uplifting performance by the Watoto Children's Choir on Friday night.

Team leader Philip Mugerwa said the choir, which is No. 72 and features nine girls and nine boys, is two months into its six month tour of Australia. They have completed the Queensland leg and are on their way down the New South Wales coast before heading to South and Western Australian.

Mr Mugerwa said the reason for the tour is not only to "share the love of Jesus" but also highlight the plight of orphan children in Uganda. "We rescue children and look after them physically, emotionally and spiritually. Our goal is the raise future leaders for Uganda."

Also on tour as a caregiver was Prossy Namirimu, who was a former member of the choir back in its early development. "I was in choir No. 6. We toured the US, UK and Canada in 1999-2000."

Ms Namirimu said her education through the organisation gave her the opportunity to become a medical scientist, her regular job back in Uganda when she isn't touring with the children.

While the message the choir is bringing with them is a powerful one, there was still plenty of time for lots of fun along the way.

"We have seen some kangaroos and taken some photos. The children were trying to get selfies with them but they are too quick."

The evening is being presented by Riverside Church and the Grafton Ministers Association and the children were billeted by local families.

THE WATOTO STORY

THE choir is a group of African children choirs based in Kampala, Uganda, at Watoto Church (formerly Kampala Pentecostal Church or KPC). Each choir is composed of about 22 different children from Uganda.

Watoto means "Children" in Swahili language. The choir is made up of children who have lost one or both parents to the AIDS epidemic or to war. There are estimated to be 14 million orphans across Africa. The choir has toured all over the world with a team of Ugandan adults.

Their performances are a blend of native African rhythms, contemporary gospel music and ethnic dance.



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