Uganda choir on life-changing trip

A group of Ugandan children is on a life-changing trip to New Zealand.

The Watoto Children's Choir performed at the Dunedin Town Hall last night on a national tour.

The 22 boys and girls in the choir, all aged between 8 and 13, are orphans who are being raised through the Watoto project in Uganda.

"To come to New Zealand is an awesome experience for them.

It's an opportunity for them to travel as ambassadors for the many children in Africa who cannot speak on their own behalf," choir leader Brian Abaho said yesterday.

"There are two million children in Uganda who are suffering because of poverty, war and disease.

"Many children have no-one to care for them.

"We want to raise the children in a safe home, where they are loved and cared for and someone believes in them - with mothers who will raise them as their own children," Mr Abaho said.

The Watoto project has established three villages in Uganda, each containing up to 180 houses.

Each home is run by a "mother", who raises eight children.

"Most of these children have been orphaned by Aids and war," The Evangelical Alliance Relief (Tear) Fund Otago-Southland manager Jane Laurie said yesterday.

"Rather than orphanages, they're in families of eight foster brothers and sisters and are looked after by a mother who has usually been abandoned or widowed."

Watoto Child Care Ministries was founded in Kampala, Uganda, in 1992 to provide homes for parent-less children and now cares for nearly 2000 children.

The choir will sing in the C3 Church in Vogel St, Dunedin, at 7pm today; the Mosgiel-North Taieri Presbyterian Church, at 10am tomorrow; the East Taieri Presbyterian Church, at 2pm tomorrow; and the Oamaru Opera House, at 7pm on Tuesday.



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