BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Watoto in Swahili means children. It also is the name of a childcare service in Uganda that has rescued more than 4,000 orphans or abandoned children.
Since the 1980’s, Watoto has brought structure to these children by building communities in Uganda for them where they live. There they are provided with schooling, sports facilities, places of worship and housing.
“At Watoto we look after children that have been abandoned or who have lost one or both of their parents, and we don’t put them in typical orphanage setups we build a village,” said Edwinsmith Kigozi who is a leader of the choir that traveled to Binghamton on Wednesday to perform. “Most of these children have never experienced the love of a dad.”
Along with opportunity in Uganda, Watoto also provides opportunity for children outside of Africa. Since the 1990’s Watoto has sent children on trips around the world to expand their skills and passion to sing and dance in front of audiences of all sizes.
“Your inspiration is limited by what you are surrounded with or by,” said Kigozi. “Going to all these new places helps us to get our inspiration and our dreams even bigger.”
The choir tours, last about six months and are assigned to different destinations around the world. For Kigozi he knows how eye-opening the trip can be because he was on the third choir that Watoto assembled back in 1998.
“I know exactly how they feel,” exclaimed Kigozi. “I didn’t know my dad, he died when I was five. So I didn’t know him.”
He said on that tour he learned how to play the drums and the crowd appreciation that he saw, and the people he met inspired him to peruse a career in music.
“It was then that I realized that I could become everything that I ever dreamt of because I had seen it happening with other people,” explained Kigozi. “So traveling is a way to inspire the children.”
Now he leads these children, giving them the guidance they never had to be respectable, successful adults.
“[We are] raising the next generation of African leaders.”
While Kigozi wants children in the future he explained that these kids in the choir are his.
“I don’t have my biological kids yet, but all these children I have traveled with the last couple of years some of them actually call me dad,” said Kigozi who is like family to these children.
When they go back to Uganda after touring for six months these children told 12 News they want to work in industries like fashion and banking, and they’re that they can achieve that because of the success stories of those who came before like, like Kigozi who is now a music producer.
“Everytime I look at them I see myself in all of them,” explained Kigozi.
Watoto will be in Brooklyn on Thursday. The group performs almost everyday of the week. For more tour dates you can check out their website, https://www.watoto.com/choir/experience-the-choir/.