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Watoto choir brings music with a mission to BE

By Staff | May 25, 2014

Hope United Methodist Church will be filled with inspiring music, but not in the form one might expect.

On Wednesday, May 28, a choir of children from Uganda will be performing at the church in Blue Earth.

The Choir of Watoto will not only bring great music to the community that night, they will also be bringing with them an important message.

“These children are orphans and this choir started as a response to the orphan problem in Uganda,” Hope UMC Pastor Jan Crissinger-Clark says. “Parents of these children died in war and as a result of the HIV/AIDs epidemic.”

The Choir of Watoto was started in 1994 and began traveling as advocates of the problem of orphaned children.

According to the Watoto website, more than 14 million children have become orphaned due to the AIDs epidemic.

“This choir gives these children so many opportunities after having been impoverished and abandoned,”?Crissinger-Clark says.

She first heard the choir perform at a church in St. James and thought about getting them to perform right here in Blue Earth.

“Sure enough, they were available and we scheduled them to come,”?she says.

The first time she saw the choir perform she was more than impressed with their talents.

“I don’t think people were prepared for how incredibly talented these kids actually are,”?Crissinger-Clark says.

And, she adds, through their participation in this choir, these children go on to have increased success in life.

“They can be tremendous successes, and then they are staying right there in Uganda which is going to make a difference there long term,”?Crissinger-Clark adds.

The Choir of Watoto is supported by many Christian churches around the country, which is an important way of reaching out to others in missions, according to the Blue Earth pastor.

“I feel churches have a responsibility for local missions, but it’s also about asking how are we being called out into the world globally,”?Crissinger-Clark says.

Welcoming the children’s choir to perform at their church is one small way to reach out and support the children’s rehabilitation.

“This gives them confidence and hope after experiencing the traumatic things they have in their lifetimes,” she adds.

According to the choir’s website, the purpose of forming the choir is also to give the children exposure to other cultures and broaden their view of the world.

“One way they do that is by having the children stay with host families, instead of staying in hotels,” Crissinger-Clark says.

Nicole Meyers, of Blue Earth, was part of the committee which helped line up host families in town for the children during their visit.

“We found nine families from the church to host these children,”?she says.

Meyers explains that two or three children will stay with each family as well as one of the adult supervisors who travel with the choir.

“When the kids are here, they aren’t supposed to watch TV, no computer, no phones,”?Meyers says.

The host families are encouraged to let the children get a good night’s sleep since they will be continuing on to perform another concert in another town the very next day.

“But, the host families can spend some time after the concert talking to the children about what they do,”?Meyers adds.

She says the host families are also informed that the children tend to be very reserved.

“They are taught to show much more respect to adults and tend to answer questions only after they’ve been asked,”?Meyers says. “They don’t come right out and speak like a lot of kids here in our culture.”

These children travel all year staying with host families around the country and perform many concerts.

“This is going to be such a great concert,” Crissinger-Clark says.

The choir brings their own sets and equipment with them on their tours.

“This is a very visually pleasing show as well,”?she adds.

The concert will be held at 7 p.m. on May 28 at Hope UMC in Blue Earth. There will be no admission to attend, but there will be a freewill donation.