Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress... (James 1:27)
West Heights has been a loyal supporter of Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda, East Africa, since January 2004 when their children's choir first graced our church with their beautiful smiles, music and dance. Since that time, we have hosted the choir six times and taken two mission teams to Uganda to serve God through their ministry. Watoto takes in and cares for orphans and vulnerable women using a unique, holistic approach, providing everything they need to become productive citizens and leaders of their country: shelter, food, clothing, education, vocational training, medical care and spiritual discipleship. Watoto becomes their family that provides them hope for the future. Uganda suffered decades of physical, psychological and economic abuse at the hands of dictators and the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) which, for years, kidnapped thousands of children and turned them into child soldiers to carry out their brutality. Uganda is a country that has suffered mightily for a long time. But, through God's grace and organizations like Watoto, significant improvements have occurred over the last 10-15 years! Since 1994, Watoto has cared for thousands of Uganda's most vulnerable children and some of those very first children have now graduated from university and are investing their lives and skills back into their country as leaders of a new generation. Watoto is a great success story of God's love for the most vulnerable.
Sponsoring A Life
One of the most important ways West Heights and many other people in Wichita and across the world support Watoto is through sponsoring a baby, child or housemother. It is easy to do and yields a significant return to the baby, child or housemother AND to you! For more information, click here. (Note: Watoto has received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America's largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities.)
Started in 2008 as Living Hope and re-branded later as Watoto Neighborhood, the over-arching goal of this program is to empower vulnerable women and children through Christ Centered Holistic Care for community development. This goal is achieved by embracing, empowering and engaging the women in their communities. Members of West Heights have witnessed this program in person in Uganda and it is an incredible program, worthy of everyone’s support. Read more about it, check out the website, and sponsor a Neighborhood mother today!
The Watoto Children's Choir
Watoto sends their children's choirs around the globe to spread the love of Jesus to the world, educate the world about the ongoing need of Ugandan people and to give these Watoto children, who came to Watoto with nothing, a once-in-a-lifetime experience - to travel, see a world they have only head about and, most importantly, connect with people from different cultures. All of the children in the choir come from the Watoto villages. These children practice for months, learning new music and dance and along the way, learning the value of hard work, practice and discipline. Their tour typically lasts 8-9 months in a specific country. As they travel from city to city, they and their adult chaperones stay in the homes of host families, providing a unique (and many times life-changing) personal connection and experience for both the child and the host family. Below are pictures of the choir at West Heights in years past. To learn more about the choir, please click here.
West Heights sent Mission Teams to Uganda to support the Watoto ministry in 2005 and 2007. One family also went back on their own in 2016 and 2018. In 2005, nine West Heights members spent two weeks building a children's home in the Suubi Village. They experienced worship with passionate, God-loving Ugandans, cultural music and dance, local food and a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. In 2007, 23 people from West Heights and three other local churches spent two weeks building a children's home and a teacher's home in Bbira Village and ended the trip with a safari at Murchison Falls National Park. These trips have been life-changing for many of the people involved. Below are pictures from these trips. If you are interested in taking a mission trip to Uganda, please let us know here.