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Watoto Children's Choir to perform Sunday at Mt. Pleasant Church of God

| Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:10 p.m.

On Sunday, the Watoto Children's Choir will perform an energetic fusion of contemporary gospel and traditional African rhythm entitled “Beautiful Africa: A New Generation” at the Mt. Pleasant Church of God in the borough.

Watoto choirs act as ambassadors to raise awareness about the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children of Africa, where nearly 11 million children die every year before their fifth birthday, according to a news release from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Watoto Children's Villages act as a child-care solution to the epidemic.

In the villages, the children receive the care and nurturing they need to grow up as productive citizens of their own country, according to the release.

“Through the choir's Concert of Hope, we share a message of transformation by telling the story of Africa's rescued orphans and women,” Watoto founder Gary Skinner said. “We hope to reach out to audiences with the message of Christ's healing power.”

The choir presents Watoto's vision and mission through their stories, music and dance.

“They're amazing; the kids do a great job,” said the Rev. Brad Adams, pastor of the Mt. Pleasant Church of God, who will be seeing the choir for the third time.

Adams hosted the Watoto Children's Choir at a church in Ohio, were he previously served as pastor. He said he was immediately interested in hosting them again locally when the opportunity came along.

Church members serve as host families while the children are in town.

“It's really nice for families in the church to interact with the children,” said Adams.

He admitted that it is “hard on the heart” to hear the children's stories.

“They win your heart over,” he said, “You just want to keep them all.”

The choir has traveled internationally since 1994 as ambassadors for the millions of African children orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, war and poverty.

Since its inception, 60 choirs have traveled globally.

Every child in the village gets the opportunity to go on tour one time and then they go back to the village to continue their education, said choir director Brian Katongole.

“The children love it,” Katongole said, “It's a very different environment for them; they're getting an opportunity that they would otherwise never get.”

Donations will be accepted after the show and merchandise such as CDs, DVDs and T-shirts will be available for sale.

Show times are 8 a.m. and 10:15 am. There is no cost to attend.

“I am having fun,” said choir member Winnie Nakate, 13. “I love to sing and dance and I love ‘Beautiful Africa.'”

Nakate said she also enjoys having the opportunity to go school and she hopes to one day become a hair stylist.

Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer.