“Watoto Children’s Choirs have travelled internationally since 1994 as advocates for the estimated 50 million children in Africa, orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, war, poverty and disease. Accompanied by a team of adults, the choir presents Watoto’s vision and mission through their stories, music and dance. Watoto choirs act as ambassadors to raise awareness about the plight of the orphaned and vulnerable children of Africa. The experience gives the children exposure to other cultures broadening their worldview. It also gives them confidence and boldness and helps them rise up out of their own situations of sadness and despair.” – http://www.watoto.com/the-choir
Randy Henkle, Operations Manager at Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper, decided to contact the Watoto group after seeing their tour bus in Springfield last year. He approached them about coming to tour the bottling facility, and a March 9, 2012 date was secured. The Watoto children are Ugandan orphans that perform in the United States amongst several other countries to earn funds and awareness for their orphanage. They come with big smiles, laughter, singing and dancing as they share their stories of how they have come to where they are now. Randy recounted a story he heard about a child that had been with the Choir for two years. “Before that he had made bricks out of mud for a man and sold them. This was a child only 6 years old.” He also shared a story about three young girls. “Another group of children’s father was killed in war, and the mother had neglected them, leaving them in their grandmother’s care. Once the grandmother had passed the girls took to the streets to beg. A priest picked them up off the streets and took them to Watoto.” The group that visited Ozarks consisted of 22 children with 11 adults. They were given a tour of the plant, and were able to see how the bottling process works. We made sure that they didn’t leave empty-handed, giving them goodie bags that included a Coke lunch sack, a Coke Frisbee, a Coke wristband, sunglasses and a Coke T-shirt. We hope that the Choir enjoyed their visit as much as we enjoyed having them, and we look forward to meeting new members in the future!
Ozarks First came out to capture the visit. Be sure to check out the video!
They will be traveling in the area for the next week. You can meet them too! http://www.watoto.com/the-choir/see-the-choir