Monday 27 February 2012

Watoto - food for thought

I had an interesting evening on Friday. A spur-of-the moment invitation took me to a performance by a choir from the Watoto project in Uganda. Watoto describes itself as: 'a holistic care programme that was initiated as a response to the overwhelming number of orphaned and vulnerable children and women in Africa. It is positioned to rescue an individual, raise each one as a leader in their chosen sphere of life so that they in turn will rebuild their nation.'

The evening was comprised of music, song and dance interspersed with visual and spoken examples of the work of Watoto. There were some devastating tales: one young girl of about eight spoke with dignity of how her siblings had all died, her mother disappeared, and then her father walked her to the edge of town and simply left her there.

There were other stories, too, of abuse and abandonment. Yet it was a truly positive evening: colourful, lively and uplifting. There was no sense that any of these youngsters felt sorry for themselves, rather that they were glad they had been rescued and, in a family environment, been given the strength and tools to move forward.

There was a strong Christian message - several times we were invited to join them in prayer, which, with typical British reserve, most declined to do - and the appeal for money was a bit full on. But under the circumstances, why not?