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Watoto Choir Spreads Joy Despite the Storm

The choir of Ugandan orphans brought their colorful, soulful show to Parsippany United Methodist Church and perform again Tuesday night in Randolph.

Superstorm or no, organizers at Parsippany United Methodist Church were determined that its Nov. 7 event featuring the Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda—and they succeeded.

The rousing "Concert of Hope" went forward at the S. Beverwyck Road house of worship, bringing attendees a splash of light, color and emotion.

The Watoto Choir, made up of Ugandan children who have lost at least one parent to war or disease, performs an energetic fusion of contemporary gospel and traditional African rhythm and offers a colorful and lively demonstration of what they see as the life-changing love of God.

Organizer Bob Keller said the boys and girls who danced in Parsippany represent 1.8 million orphaned boys and girls in Uganda. He said the children are raised in Watoto villages, which provide the kids with spiritual, physical, educational and emotional care.

Keller said that while adminission to Watoto shows is free, there is a collection of donations to help the Watoto villages fulfill their mission.

As for the show itself, Keller was enthusiastic.

"I just don't have words to describe them," he exclaimed. "You can get just a taste from their Youtube vids, but to meet them and talk with them—just amazing.

"The costumes were beautiful.  So much color!  The dancing and the harmonies coming from these kids!  Remember, most of them are 9, 10 and 11 years old.  A few older and a few younger, but wow!"

Keller said the real message of the evening was the hope that the children expressed. 

"One of the photos shows a little girl crying," he said. "She had just told her story—father ran off and mother died leaving her to care for her younger siblings.  But her face lit up when she talked about the effect, the hope, that Watoto has had on her. Kind of put the hardships that we had to endure this past couple weeks into perspective."

Keller said the aftermath of Sandy made it difficult for many in the township to come out and experience the magic of the Watoto Choir. He recommended that everyone take the opportunity to see the kids perform at their last local event Tuesday at Hope Presbyterian Church, 658 Millbrook Ave. in Randolph. The show begins at 7 p.m.

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