Watoto Children’s Choir to sing in Oak Harbor for Uganda orphans
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
September 20, 2011 · Updated 3:08 PM
In Uganda, war tears families apart. Orphaned children are left starving and sleeping in the streets. To these children who have nothing, a home means everything.
The Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda will perform in Oak Harbor to raise money for the Watoto Child Care Ministry, a care program that rescues orphans living on the street, gives them safe homes and raises them to be educated leaders.
The choir will perform Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Oak Harbor High School Performing Arts Center.
The choir performs worldwide and has visited Oak Harbor three times. Children ages 10 to 15 will sing, dance and tell the stories of where they came from and what they plan to do with their lives. All the children are orphans and work to spread their stories to the world through vibrant African and energetic gospel music and dance.
“We just want people to have a good time and learn something about our neighbors abroad,” said Robert Lycksell, who has visited Uganda various times and sponsors children there.
Watoto places seven or eight children with surrogate mothers in homes and supplies food, medical attention and education through high school with the goal that the children will grow into leaders and rebuild Uganda. Fifty-two of the children involved earned college degrees, Lycksell said.
“The kids are safe, in very safe locations. They’re well-fed. Every year, I go to see the children we sponsor and they are happy. It’s nice to see them smile,” Lycksell said.
The children like being there because they came from sleeping on the streets and never having enough to eat, Lycksell said.
After the choir performed in Oak Harbor in 2007, Lycksell and others who housed the visiting children became interested in traveling to Uganda to build a house for them. They formed the Oak Harbor Watoto Mission Team and traveled to Uganda in 2008. The group built a home for an orphanage to house a surrogate mother and seven orphaned children.
In 2010, Lycksell and others returned to Uganda to find a location for a medical clinic. Since then, his team has been raising $131,000 to build the clinic for orphaned children and women abused in the war.
When he visited Uganda last summer, Lycksell hired a bus and took 19 children to lunch.
“We just had fun. The kids were laughing and felt comfortable and were safe. It was good to see them acting like kids,” Lycksell said.
There is no cost to attend the Watoto Children’s Choir performance but a free-will offering will be taken. Handmade African crafts will also be available for purchase.
“Come and enjoy. Experience people who have nothing but have everything,” Lycksell said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.