Our College enthusiastically supports the work of Watoto in Uganda by sponsoring twins each year. Our Dean of Pastoral Care, Sr Veronica flew to Uganda in 2008 to help build a house for eight parentless children and a house mother.
‘Watoto’ cares for 1,510 children. 1,058 live in the homes currently completed. 20 young adults attend tertiary education, including University. The 2008 team built at Subbi Village where future plans for the expansion include 99 more homes, 27 teacher’s apartment, a new water hole, a high school, a sports field, a store and a medical support staff block.
Currently the College supports Watoto by raising money through Free Dress days and Pizza Fridays. All students can order a pizza lunch for $3 each Friday with proceeds going directly to Watoto to sponsor 2 of the 8 children now living in the house built in 2008.
Sr Veronica’s story.
In December, 2006 I witnessed an amazing reflection of faith when I went to hear the Watoto Choir sing at Glasshouse. I was overcome with the strong message of hope and joy that these children portrayed from deep within themselves – especially as these children were from deep within a country torn by war, disease and corruption.
I knew then that these Watoto Choirs travelled to raise money for children in Uganda. I did not know that there are always choirs ‘in training’ and many other Watoto Choirs on tour all round the world, and that in time one of these Watoto Choirs would be singing in our very own Performing Art Complex and that 9 of our families would have the amazing opportunity of billeting these children for the night of the Concert.
During and after that evening, I wondered what I could do about helping these people, and why I had actually “had” the experience of not only hearing them sing but ‘feeling’ their joy and happiness. I was perplexed – many of these children had suffered so much, they were parentless, they had seen their parents slaughtered or dying of AIDS. After having the pamphlet sitting on my desk for a while, I eventually filed it in my “Things to do” folder, unsure of what I needed to do.
At that time I was unaware that Watoto actually means CHILDREN in Swahili and that there were teams around the world - 77 in 2006 that visited the Watoto Child Care Ministries, helping to build houses for 8 parentless children and a house mother in Kampala where there are 3 villages. I was also unaware that there are over 1.7 million parentless children in Uganda where 50% of the population is under 15.
It was only through an amazing set of circumstances that I joined the team at Morayfield called Mission Watoto and flew to Uganda.
We arrived at the Entebbe International Airport, Uganda, and were escorted to Kampala. In the village we helped a Ugandan team of 10 men to build the house. The slab was already prepared, and 2500 bricks for the home already on site. Window frames, door, door jams, timber for roofing, roofing nails and iron sheets was also on site ready for installation. The house will took about 2 weeks to build.
I believe that apart from working on the house - attending a service at the Pentecostal Church in Kampala (apparently they have a congregation of 17,500), visiting the other two Watoto villages, meeting other workers and all those involved in the villages, working, praying, singing, eating traditional meals and spending time with the children (and hugging them) provided an amazing set of opportunities for me. It was indeed a life changing experience.
I’m sure that even now I cannot grasp the contrast to our life here and do not truly understand how richly blessed we all are here in Australia. What a powerful message to experience and bring back.
God bless you all and thank you for your continuing support for the parentless children of Watoto.
Dean of Pastoral Care