Whether it’s because they lost a mother or father — or both — to AIDS, war or some other tragedy, the members of The Watoto Children’s Choir all share stories of loss and gain, says Mercy Sendegeya, wife of Choir Director Robert Sendegeya.

“They might have maybe a grandfather or grandmother somewhere, but most of them are too old or too poor to take care of them,” she says, adding the younger members range in age from 7 to 13.

Ten adults and 22 children will sing at Champions Church, 21512 S.E. Stark St., at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 9. Admission is free and open to the public. by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Lively dancing and harmony-laden song characterizes the performances of The Watoto Childrens Choir.

The choir represents the Watoto Church of Kampala, Uganda, which sends out six or seven such choirs yearly. Sendegeya says the show will feature music, videos and testimonies by the children.

“It’s very lively, lots of dancing, lots of singing, and we even have the audience participate along the way,” she says.

The children belong to several different Ugandan tribes that speak a variety of dialects, so the common language is English, she says. At home, the children live in groups of eight in homes with a foster mother, in three villages with more than 3,000 children. The youngsters receive education and health care through the church.

“When you meet them the first time most of them are shy and can hardly look up,” Sendegeya says of the orphans. “When you see them now, they are very outgoing and confident. We are raising them to be the future leaders of Uganda, so each of them has a dream to become someone.”

Since 1994, 64 such choirs have traveled globally, performing in Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas, including Canada and the United States, where they have entertained at the White House.

To see a choir performance, visit

For the choir schedule, visit

For more information on Champions Church, visit, or call 503-492-8784.

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