The Watoto Big Party ran from June 1 to June 8 but the main events were the Big 30 celebrations which happened on June 5 at Watoto West (Kyengera) grounds and the Big 30 Festival Of Hope at Watoto Central on June 8. This attracted a huge crowd comprising mostly youth who were dressed in denims and T-shirts as they cheered the performers on stage.
Despite the huge crowd, there were enough seats in all corners and security was tight. Due to a few glitches with lighting and sound system, the event started at 7pm instead of 5pm.
With a state- of-the art immense stage, Watoto Children’s Choir was the first to perform, attracting ululation from the audience. Here, the Watoto Choir staged a play depicting the days when Joseph Kony (LRA rebel leader) turned many school-going children into child soldiers and killed families. This was acted mostly by the children who were former abductees and now under Watoto Child Care Ministries.
Women beneficiaries of Watoto also testified about what they benefitted. “I had never stood in front of a big crowd to address them in English but thanks a lot to Watoto, here I’m talking to thousands of people,” said one of the women who represented other beneficiaries.
The main performance started at 9pm as Israel Houghton, the American gospel artiste took to the stage. The revellers screamed non-stop for about two minutes. He sang songs like I’m not forgotten and Hossana that had people like the executive director of KCCA, Jennifer Musisi,and DP president Nobert Mao worshipping.
The founders’ remarks
The co-founder of Watoto, Marilyn Skinner, told of how they came to Uganda in 1983 and found children suffering as most of them were orphaned and needy. “I started helping children one by one, after sometime I got an idea to put them under one roof and look after them. That is how we came up with Watoto Child Care Ministries,” she said.
Pastor Gary Skinner closed with remarks on how happy he was, to transform helpless young boys and groomed into today’s church leaders. The event ended at a few minutes past 10pm.