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Children inspire through song

January 15, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Even though they lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, the orphans of Uganda do not intend to share sad stories.

In fact, audiences at two Tri-State area churches might find their stories inspiring, said Edward "Eddie" Mwesigye, a team leader for Watoto Children's Choir No. 33, a choir of Ugandan orphans ages 8 to 13.

"It's testimony about what they've been through," Mwesigye said from the road, during a recent interview with The Herald-Mail.

On Sunday afternoon, the Watoto Children's Choir will be at Otterbein Church in Waynesboro, Pa. The choir will then perform on Tuesday at Christ's Reformed Church UCC in Hagerstown.

Otterbein music and worship director Dave Besecker said it would be the choir's first time at the church.

"I think music helps you to express things that words often don't," Besecker said. "And what's better than listening to a group of children sing? It kind of opens your heart to what they have to say."


According to a recent report by UNAIDS, a joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDs, between 6 percent and 7 percent of adults in Uganda are infected with HIV/AIDS. That has a devastating affect on the country's children.

According to the report, nearly 2 million Ugandan children were orphans in 2002.

Mwesigye said the children will sing, dance and tell stories about the obstacles they have overcome.

The performances are intended to raise awareness about the charity organization Watoto, said Sherry Hansen, Watoto's U.S. tour coordinator.

Watoto supports Ugandan orphans through the construction of children's villages. Watoto has three touring choirs which tour all over the world. The local performances are free, but people will have an opportunity to make donations.

Mwesigye is one of 10 adult team leaders in charge of the 17 children who sing in Watoto Children's Choir No. 33, currently touring the East Coast.

"I lost my parents when I was really young," Mwesigye said.

Like many orphaned children in Uganda, Mwesigye said he ended up living with his grandparents. He said that in Uganda, it's up to the child to care for the grandparents - much different from the way things are in the United States.

Mwesigye decided to get involved with Watoto because it provides orphaned children with a new kind of family.

"That's what I lack and that is what these children need," he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Concert of Hope" featuring Watoto Children's Choir No. 33

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18

WHERE: Otterbein Church, 801 Park St., Waynesboro, Pa.

COST: Free, but people can make donations to the choir

MORE: Call Otterbein Church, 717-762-7147.

Go to to learn more about the Watoto Children's Choir

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