Watoto Children’s Choir
When: 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Feb. 3
Where: Highlands Church, 3678 Cleveland Highway, Gainesville
How much: Free
More information: 770-535-0843
On Feb. 3, Gainesville will get a visit from some very important African ambassadors. The Watoto Children’s choir will perform "Beautiful Africa: A New Generation" at The Highlands Church on Cleveland Highway.
The choir comprises a group of children who have suffered the loss of one or both parents through disease, famine or civil unrest.
According to Jeanine Bedell, the Watoto U.S. communications director, the members of the choir live in Watoto Children’s Villages in Uganda where they receive the "care and nurture they need to grow up as productive citizens of their own country."
Bedell describes the performance of vibrant, original African music and dance routines as "life-transforming."
"The choir is indicative of the new generation of leaders emerging out of Watoto," said Bedell.
Elizabeth Jones, Highlands director of children and family ministries, said the church jumped at the chance to bring the choir back to Gainesville.
"We hosted them two years ago when they were doing their East Coast tour and Sherry Hanson, one of the group’s coordinators in Florida, called to let us know they were coming this way again (and) would love to join us again for worship. We quickly said ‘yes.’"
The Watoto Children’s Choir acts as Watoto ambassadors to raise awareness about the plight of the orphaned and vulnerable children of Africa, said Bedell. "Watoto is a holistic childcare solution initiated to serve the dire needs of Africa and her people."
Jones hopes as many people as possible will experience the performance and see that "God is doing big things around the world and we can be a part of it."
"Through the choir’s Concert of Hope, we share a message of transformation by telling the story of Africa’s rescued orphans and women. We hope to reach out to audiences with the message of Christ’s healing power," says Gary Skinner, Watoto founder.
"They are an amazing group of adults and young people who really have some incredible stories to share," said Jones. "God is doing big things through the Watoto villages in Uganda, and they are striving to raise a new generation of leaders to change the world, especially in their home country."
The Watoto Children’s Choirs have traveled internationally since 1994 as ambassadors for the millions of children in Africa orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, war and poverty.
The choirs have been to Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, France and the U.S.
"We want people to hear the music, see the dancing and hear the stories and have their lives impacted and changed by these 7- to 13-year-olds," said Jones.
Both performances at 9 and 11:30 a.m. Feb. 3 are free and open to the public.