Children in brightly colored gomesis sail seamlessly across the stage. The kids leap, sing and chant to a crowd of more than 100 people in a small church.
The Watoto Children’s Choir, an evangelist group from Africa, dances and sings to raise awareness of orphaned children in Uganda.
There are four children’s choirs touring around the world, each lead by adult coordinators and a team leader, like Phillip Mugerwa.
“Our goal for travelling in a children’s choir is most importantly to share with people the love of Jesus and what he has done for the children and where he has taken them,” Mugerwa said. “We raise awareness to try and help people know about what’s happening in Africa and how they can be part of it.”
Uganda has an estimated 2.5 million orphans, about 1 million of whom lost their parents to AIDS, according to the website for Uganda Orphans Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides the country’s orphans with shelter, food and education. AIDS is the number-one cause of death in Uganda.
The Watoto Childcare Ministry, founded by a church in Uganda, has rescued and cared for more than 3,000 orphaned African children, he said. A foster mother is responsible for the needs and welfare of eight children at a time.
“We believe we are building the next generation of African and Ugandan leaders,” he said. “The guardians to the children help them understand that it is not all about where they came from, but where they are going is all that matters.”
Sunday’s performance at the Victory Outreach Church on Lead Avenue was one of nine performances in New Mexico this month. Danny Sanchez, a pastor for the Victory Outreach Church, said he was grateful for the message of the children’s choir.
“I am motivated today; these children are being taught that they are great and that they can do greatness,” Sanchez said.
For many of the children in the choir, who are home-schooled during the six-month tour, this is their first time traveling outside of Uganda.
One such child is Rebecka Kampi, who hopes to travel the world one day — after she becomes a doctor, she said.
“I like singing because God has given me the talent to sing and dance,” Kampi said.
Charles Odong, a drummer for the choir, said everyone in the group has enjoyed their stay in Albuquerque so far, but wasn’t so sure he likes flying.
“Being in Albuquerque is very nice,” Odong said. “I like this church and how people are supporting us. The journey was good, but when we were going up was scary.”
The choir will continue to tour the US through July 4, and many of the kids have high hopes of seeing snow for the first time while they are here, he said.