Many of you have probably heard of the Watoto choirs that tour all over N. America. They originate in Kampala at the Watoto church, a Pentecostal church that was founded years ago by a Canadian pastor and his wife. It has grown into a massive church organization that continues to do excellent work all over Uganda. Their motto is “Rescue a child, Raise a Leader and Rebuild a Nation”. They have babies homes in Northern Uganda as well as Kampala and Children’s villages in 3 areas. Their philosophy is that Ugandan children need to stay in Uganda — as educated Christian leaders — and help to rebuild the country into a strong, Christian nation.
We had the pleasure of visiting their babies home in Kampala and meeting some of the staff. I (Joanne) also spent a morning there in the premature babies room — learning how to care for sick and premature babies. It was a beautiful morning — and also heartbreaking. There were 8 babies there — 3 tiny ones in incubators and 5 stronger ones. I held them and fed them, changed diapers and took temperatures… and just loved them and prayed over them. It was a room filled with beautiful potential — and also a place of sadness, seeing so many gorgeous babies who had been thrown away.
The staff at Watoto were happy to hear that we will be taking in abandoned babies in Mbarara. Our friends, the Wards, who have been doing it up to this point, have returned to New Zealand and we will be taking over for them. We will accept the babies from the hospital, police or probation services and keep them for up to a week to stabilize the babies and complete the paper work. At that point, the team from Watoto will come and get the babies, who will then live at the Watoto home and be raised as part of their community.
Many orphanages in Uganda are really grim… understaffed and underfunded. They are not places of health and love. But we were so impressed by Watoto. When we entered the building, we could sense the peace… there were many staff and volunteers around, snuggling babies and playing with them. The space was bright and clean, the babies were content and alert. It was clear that the babies were well cared for and really loved. There was nothing institutional about it. And so we are pleased to partner with them — to give them the babies that we receive, knowing that they are going to a good place.