A rough beginning in Africa has led a group of children to a unique opportunity in America this Sunday when they’ll share their message of hope through song and dance at a free concert at Horizon Presbyterian Church.

The concert will begin at 5 p.m. at the church, located at 1401 E. Liberty Lane. There is no cost to view the show.

The Watoto Children’s Choir is made up of African children who have been orphaned or abandoned. Similar choirs have been travelling around the world, acting as ambassadors to share their story and raise awareness of other orphans back home, since 1994.

This choir, the 62nd choir since the Watoto Children’s Choir first began, will share a message of hope through song, dance and stories in their native language and in English.

The choir is from the Watoto Church in Kampala, Uganda. The church was started by Canadian missionaries in the ’80s and expanded to Watoto Child Care Ministries in 1994 when the church’s founders saw how many children were left without care as their parents were killed off by HIV and AIDS.

Today, the ministry takes care of more than 3,000 children who live in Watoto villages in homes built by volunteers. They hope to expand their reach to 10,000 children by 2023. They are able to help more children through individual sponsorships.

“Today there are many other things besides HIV and AIDS we have to worry about,” said Robert Sendegeya, who is a leader of the choir visiting Phoenix. “We have civil wars, Watoto is one of the organizations helping orphaned children in Sudan. All the choirs when we travel we raise awareness so people can know the situation back home in Africa. We hope to be able to rescue many more children that are orphaned.”

Sendegeya said the program’s mission is to help children become leaders in their nation. The choir tours help kids see the outside world and give them hope for their future.

“Each day every day is empowering to see their life go from nothing and no dreams and abandonment to children that really look forward to the future and have that vision,” he said. “That transformation is great.”

The choir consists of 22 children, ages 7 to 14. During the show they’ll tell some of their stories along with the songs.

The choir is performing several concerts in the Phoenix area through Jan. 12. For more information on the choir or the shows, visit https://www.watoto.com/the-choir/see-the-choir.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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