Page 1

F A I T H O V E R F E A R Annual Stories 2018

TA B L E O F CO N T E N T S T HE IMPACT YOU’RE MAKING ........................................................................ 4 FOUNDERS’ MESSAGE .........................................................................................5 WHO WE ARE ..........................................................................................................6 WATOTO CHURCH . . ................................................................................................ 7 JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN ..........................................................................................8 Keep A Girl In School WATOTO NEIGHBOURHOOD . . ......................................................................... 12 Betty’s Story Agnes’ Story Hamidah’s Story BABY WATOTO ...................................................................................................... 18 Charles’ Story Joshua’s Story WATOTO VILLAGES . . ........................................................................................... 22 Education Meet Gift Medical Mama Hilda & Alexandria Mark & Andrew’s Story Sponsorship Sports Academy Lydia’s Story Worship Academy Partnership WATOTO CHILDREN’S CHOIR ........................................................................38 Beatrice’s Story We Will Go THERE IS MORE TO DO .................................................................................... 44 Mary’s Story Meet Rebecca Meet Gisma SUSTAINABILITY ................................................................................................. 50 WHERE WE ARE ................................................................................................... 5 1 WATOTO CANADA ............................................................................................... 52 Message From Watoto Canada Highlights From Watoto Canada Watoto Canada Financials

T H E I M PAC T YO U ’ R E M A K I N G We’re proud of all we accomplished together in 2018. The highlights captured here, and on the pages to follow, are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless stories of lives impacted by God’s grace. Each one represents someone who is forever changed because you cared. Your partnership is at the heart of everything we do, and we’re grateful to each of you who make this possible.






FOUNDERS’ MESSAGE Last year was incredible and we want to say a great, big “thank you.” Thank you for putting your faith into action and coming alongside Watoto. Together, we’re rebuilding this beautiful Africa. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 35 years since we began Watoto, and 25 years since we sent out our first children’s choir. As we look back, we’re amazed at all that God has done. We’ve literally seen tens of thousands of people transformed by the love of Jesus. Thousands of children have been rescued from a life of ruin, placed in a loving family, and raised to become future leaders. Thousands of women who yesterday thought they were nothing, today are living a life of dignity. We’ve been in Juba, South Sudan just short of seven years now, and we’ve seen the devastating effects of civil war on the region’s women and children. To help our hurting neighbours, in late 2018 we expanded our community care into Juba—launching Keep a Girl in School and Watoto Neighbourhood. As we embrace our vulnerable sisters with the love of Jesus and help meet their most critical needs, we strive to ensure none of them simply becomes a statistic. Our prayer is that we give each one a chance at a better future—a future full of promise. While we’ve seen remarkable growth in just these few short months, we know that we’ve only just begun. There’s still a desperate amount of need. God has used our 35 years of faith-in-action to transform Uganda, and we believe that He will do the same in Juba. We have faith over darkness, poverty, war and fear. We know that Jesus passionately loves his children in South Sudan. As you read these powerful stories of triumph and hope over the next few pages, we pray that you will see the critical and lasting impact you’re having on the life of every woman and child. We want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your love inspires us. We could never do what we do without you, our precious friends and partners. You are a gift to us, to Watoto and to the beautiful people we serve. May God richly bless you,

Gary and Marilyn Skinner Watoto Founders

Annual Stories


WHO WE ARE Watoto is a family made up of people from all over the world who are working together to ensure that the forgotten have a place to belong. In a time of civil war, we planted a local church in Kampala, Uganda to speak hope and life to the nation. Since then, we’ve rescued thousands of vulnerable children and women in Uganda, placed orphans in families and empowered women to care for themselves and their children. We’ve also rescued babies and former child soldiers, and sent children’s choirs across six continents. As we work alongside the most vulnerable in our society, our aim is to rescue and raise each one in a loving family, so they can become leaders who impact their communities and rebuild their nation. In over 35 years, the challenges facing Africa have changed, but our vision remains the same. We are a local church committed to celebrating Christ and caring for community.



WATOTO C H U R C H Watoto is a local church committed to celebrating Christ and caring for community. At Watoto Church we’ve seen the love of Jesus Christ in action, transforming thousands of lives. It’s this love that compels us to embrace those hurting in our world. We meet collectively every weekend with over 30,000 people at 13 different locations across Uganda and South Sudan. But we know this means nothing if our neighbour is left hungry and alone. This is why we have small gatherings throughout the week in our homes, offices, parks, and coffee shops. This is where we walk beside one another and truly grow as a family. It’s in our neighbourhoods where we discover and develop close connections. It’s here where we laugh, grow closer to one another, help our communities, and build up our neighbours with joy as we see our lives transformed and this beautiful continent rebuilt.

Annual Stories






Rebecca is among the inaugural Neighbourhood women in S. Sudan, more on page 46.

This smile is the result of pure joy. It’s what it looks like to face many trials, yet persevere in a faith that can move mountains. South Sudan is not only the world’s youngest country, it is also the poorest, most fractured place on earth. Its women and children have been dealt devastating blows of destruction, yet there is hope.

Annual Stories


KEEP A GIRL IN SCHOOL Joyce is a first-generation daughter of the young republic of South Sudan. Intelligent and determined, in many ways she mirrors her country—both brimming with unlimited potential, but facing significant challenges. In December 2013, a bloody conflict broke out, killing over 300,000 people, and displacing millions. It’s possible that Joyce’s father is one of those who was lost in the fighting. Today, as a fragile peace takes hold, there are serious difficulties for South Sudan’s people. 90% of women cannot read, and over two million children do not attend school. Yet, as we know, education plays a critical role in breaking the cycle of poverty and violence. Girls, in particular, who are educated are less vulnerable to



Esther studies with her class in Gulu, Uganda.

HIV, human trafficking, and unwanted pregnancies. When girls are kept in school they stand a better chance of growing into empowered women who can transform their neighbourhoods and countries. This is why we’re excited to have recently launched Keep a Girl in School, along with Watoto Neighbourhood, in South Sudan. Thanks to partners like Priscilla Shirer, and friends from around the world, we are making sure girls have the opportunity to pursue an education. No girl should have her future decided simply because she can’t afford feminine hygiene products. As the oldest of six, school has never been a guarantee for Joyce. Like many girls, there were times Joyce had to miss school because her family couldn’t afford basic necessities like sanitary pads, or the money to send her to school. “Periods were a major reason I would miss school,” says Joyce. “I would use cloths to clean myself when my periods would appear. I felt so uncomfortable and out of place, but what I feared most was the boys noticing. Thank you because you came to our school and taught us about selfesteem. Now, we are not ashamed of our periods and we thank God for creating us as girls.” Not only did we provide 46,928 sanitary pads and bars of soap, and 17,598 new panties last year, but we taught good health practices, along with godly sexual education to 12,193 girls and boys. As we meet and equip girls in South Sudan, we’re reminded of what God has done through us in northern Uganda. When we began in Gulu, it was also in the midst of violent unrest, yet we have seen things steadily change for the better. More girls than ever before are in school—and staying in school. Esther is one of these girls from Gulu. Like Joyce, she used to miss school because of her period. But now she’s able to stay in school and is working towards her dream of becoming a nurse. Both girls have faith for the future, and we have faith in their potential—and the thousands of girls just like Joyce and Esther.

Annual Stories






Africa’s greatest resource is her women, empowered. Women like Anna. Anna was uneducated, abandoned and full of anxiety. Then she received counseling, education and business skills training through Watoto Neighbourhood and discovered a faith in Jesus. Today, she’s overcome her fear. She’s more than a leader who trains 40 women in her community. More than a tailor running her own business. She’s an empowered mother for her daughter Rebecca. And Anna is healed.

Annual Stories


BETTY’S STORY Riding her bicycle through town, you can see that Betty’s smile is infectious. But that wasn’t always the case. At 12 years old, Betty was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army and given to a rebel soldier as his wife. She spent the next nine years of her childhood living in captivity. While in the bush, she birthed and buried several children. Betty wanted to escape but knew that if they caught her, they would kill her. It was only when she realized that everyone around her was dying anyway that she finally decided to escape. After all that, when she returned to her family she was rejected and shunned. When Betty joined Watoto Neighbourhood she received trauma counseling, discipleship and found release through forgiveness. She forgave the LRA, and she forgave her family. Betty also learned to sew and run a business. Today, she’s an empowered mother living on the land she worked to buy, and in the house she built for her family. In 2017, her youngest child, Faith, was given the opportunity to receive a quality education at a Watoto school. Betty’s childhood was taken, but now she’s able to give her daughter the love and freedom to flourish—and she’s flourishing too.



AGNES’ STORY Today, Agnes provides for her family. But people didn’t always believe in her potential. Agnes’ father didn’t want to waste money sending his daughter to school and threw her out of the home as a young girl. With limited options, Agnes got married at 16 years old. When she was pregnant with her fifth child, her husband died and she discovered she was HIV+. With no way to provide for her family, she took her children and they slept in an old, abandoned railroad car. It became their home for five years. When Watoto Neighbourhood launched in 2008, Agnes was among the first women to join. For the first time in her life, she received an education and she thrived learning business skills. In Agnes’ hands, her first chicken was multiplied into more chickens, which she sold for a goat, which then became a herd of cows. With the money she earned, she has been able to buy land, many animals and build a house and a small shop. To her children and grandchildren, Agnes is a role model who is doing everything she can to give them a bright future.

Annual Stories


“When I speak out and tell my story, it feels like I’m opening up my heart to love again. There are many people who have pain inside, but as I share my story with the world I can say, I know that God loves you and He can take your pain away.”


Neighbourhood Mother

HAMIDAH’S STORY Since joining Watoto Neighbourhood, Hamidah’s found freedom from the scars of her past. She’s discovered the power of telling her story, for herself and for others. When Hamidah was 14 years old, she was kidnapped and trafficked into a neighbouring country. Locked in a windowless room, she was raped and kept as a slave for almost two years. “The room was so dark, I didn’t know if it was night or day. A man would rape me. His son would visit too, and a third man. If I refused, they would starve and beat me. I still have the scars on my back.” Eventually Hamidah tried to escape, but was returned to her captors. After many months had passed, she tried again. This time she succeeded. “When I finally arrived home in Uganda, I learned my mother had died from the heartbreak of losing me. And because of the trauma I experienced, a part of me had died too.” Then, Hamidah learned she was HIV+ and three months pregnant. She felt like her future was gone. “When I gave birth they had to beg me to feed my son, because when I looked at him, I remembered the days in captivity and the people who raped me and beat me. But my grandmother told me that God knew why I had become pregnant and that the child would be like an angel to me.” In 2016, Hamidah was invited by a friend to Watoto. Soon after she was welcomed into our Neighbourhood center for help and offered a job in the café. “In discipleship classes they talked about forgiveness, and for the first time I shared my story—the whole story—in front of 100 women. I was able to forgive. When I look at my son now, I forget all the pain I suffered and he gives me joy. I know he doesn’t have a father, but I know we have a Father in God, and He’s a good Father.” Soon afterwards, we told Hamidah that we would provide for her son’s education. For her, it was an answer to prayer. “I want to thank everyone at Watoto who’s accepted me and shown me love. Before, when I would shake someone’s hand, they’d go and get soap to wash away the touch. It means so much that I can tell my story and people will still sit with me and hug me. Thank you for accepting me and for your love and kindness.”



Annual Stories






Baby Watoto rescues Uganda’s most vulnerable little ones, giving them a loving home and a family, right when they need it the most. Each baby is welcomed with open arms. They’re given specialized medical care, nutrition and a dedicated nanny, who quickly becomes a mother to them. These are her babies from the moment they arrive, until they’re ready to transition into their new family in a Watoto village. Our goal is to help our babies bond, develop and thrive—knowing we’re raising Africa’s future pilots, lawyers, builders and leaders. Annual Stories


CHARLES’ STORY Watoto has been Baby Charles’ home since he was just two weeks old. His mother suffers from mental illness and is unable to care for him, so we welcomed him into Baby Watoto and are providing Charles with the love and nurture he needs to thrive. Today, Charles is a chubby, smiling six-month-old boy who loves his nanny, playtime and long naps. Someday, we hope his mother will recover and they’ll have the chance to reunite. No matter what the future holds, he has a family at Watoto, where he’s being treasured and loved, just like every child deserves. Since Baby Watoto began, we have rescued over 1,400 babies. And Miriam, our team leader, has been here most of that time. To her each rescue is personal. She believes these babies are going to rebuild the nation. “I see children all the time in the Watoto villages who started their journey here. They love to stop and talk, remembering their home with us. Even when they’re only eight or nine years old, you can see their desire to help others, and we know God has big plans for them. With all our babies, we’re doing our best to raise leaders at this early stage, so that they can bring change, wherever they find themselves.”



J O S H U A’ S S TO R Y In Baby Watoto, we continue to see babies come to us from truly desperate situations. In northern Uganda, mothers often die during or after childbirth as a result of poor medical care in rural areas. With no trace of a father, newborns are left orphaned. In the capital city, babies are more frequently abandoned in hospitals, or on the side of the road, often when they are premature and have complex medical needs. Regardless of how they come to us, we embrace each one of these precious little ones with a loving family and the care they need to grow up healthy and whole. Like many babies in Kampala, Joshua was abandoned at a local hospital. While attempts to find his family were made, he was brought to Watoto to receive the love and care he urgently needed. Despite the best efforts of our social workers, none of his relatives could be found. Although he had a difficult start in life, we are doing everything we can to ensure he knows he is dearly loved by his new family. Joshua is growing into a healthy, curious boy, who now simply gets to be a baby—learning, growing and responding to the world around him. And we’re here to support him every step of the way. Thanks for giving babies like Joshua and Charles a future full of possibilities.

Annual Stories






A child needs more than a house. A child needs a home, and a family. In our villages, children find mothers to love them, education to inspire them, healthcare to strengthen them, and their value and identity in Christ. In short, they have everything they need to grow up happy, healthy and full of purpose. That’s how we’re raising Africa’s future leaders.

Annual Stories


E D U C AT I O N Our teachers go above and beyond to love, train and educate our children. It’s a big job providing education for over 3,000 students, but our teachers are working together to raise the next generation of African leaders. In fact, they help complete our family. It’s not just about our children “getting jobs”, we want to equip them to transform their communities. Our teachers play a vital role in making this happen. They not only provide an education, but also build the student’s identity in Christ, their character and integrity. We’re continuing to expand education beyond the purely academic, so that we can encourage and equip all children—wherever their talents lie. We provide vocational training, as well as extracurricular activities like sports and creative arts. This way each child can explore their passions and discover God’s will for their life. In 2018, we celebrated as 69 of our students graduated high school, 83 graduated from vocational training and 35 graduated university. And we can’t wait to see their dreams fulfilled. No matter what path our children choose, we know God has big plans for each of them. We’re grateful for our sponsors and partners who make this possible.



MEET GIFT It seems like 11-year-old Gift loves just about everything. She loves school and church, dancing and reading stories. She loves her family, and she loves her sponsors because they help provide her with an education. For Gift, school is a place where she can learn, develop and begin to dream for the future. It’s a place she loves.

Annual Stories


MEDICAL For our doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants, providing medical care is an act of love. It’s seeing a neighbour in pain and responding. It’s helping kids grow up healthy and loved. Our medical team plays a key role in ensuring we provide holistic care to everyone in our family. When our mothers and children are healthy, they grow and flourish—and are able to fulfill their God-given potential. In 2018, there were 27,280 visits to Watoto clinics made by mothers and children—a 20% reduction from the year before. That’s because our medical team has been working hard to provide nutrition and hygiene education in the villages. We also focused on disease prevention, providing 1,338 immunizations and distributing close to 1,400 new mosquito nets to our mothers and children. Additionally, we continued to partner with international teams to provide medical outreaches to the community. Healthcare is expensive and difficult to access for families in rural areas, but through our outreaches we treated over 10,000 patients, meeting the most pressing needs of the community. Alongside the everyday work of keeping our mums and kids healthy, we often see the lives, and futures, of our children dramatically transformed. With our global partners, we were able to help Baby Luke, who was deaf, to hear for the very first time. Today, with his new cochlear implants, Luke is doing great. He’s transitioned from Baby Watoto to one of our villages, where his mother, Rosemary, is helping with his rehabilitation. His speech is developing, and he’s loving navigating the world as he adjusts to sound. With his new confidence, Mama Rosemary has trouble keeping up with him. Medical intervention has opened up a new world for Luke, and we know that he’s on his way to becoming one of Uganda’s future leaders.



MAMA HILDA & ALEXANDRIA Every child needs the love of a family. We’re happy that four-year-old Alexandria has Mama Hilda to love her, care for her and guide her through life, so that she can grow up to become a future leader. Alexandria may be little, but she’s always on the move. Whether she’s taking part in school dance performances or eating lots of her favorite food, Mama Hilda is there to see it all happen. She’s got Alexandria in her heart. And it’s not just Alexandria, Mama Hilda has a full house raising eight children. With Alexandria’s sisters and brothers, the whole family sings together, dances together, and plays hide and seek together. They’re a family full of love and laughter. Mama Hilda’s favorite thing about being a Watoto mother is when she hears a child, like Alexandria, who never knew her biological mother, call her “Mama” for the first time. At the end of the day, Hilda wants her children to grow up proud of where they’ve come from, knowing that she’s been able to give them a good life. With your help, we’re bringing together vulnerable women and children, like Hilda and Alexandria, allowing them to become mothers and daughters, giving them hope for the future.

Annual Stories


“I believe Watoto is a platform of hope for vulnerable children, just like us. Mark and I are proof that they’re rescuing and raising future leaders.”


“Being where I am today makes me feel that God has a plan for me—from the rubbish pit, to a person of influence.”


MARK & ANDREW’S STORY You’re not seeing double. This is Mark and Andrew—twins who were rescued when they were babies.   Mark recalled, “We were found abandoned in a rubbish pit and brought to Watoto.” Andrew added, “But we’ve grown up happy and feel that our Watoto family is a miracle. They have given us love, an education, provision and a future.” As kids, Mark and Andrew traveled together on the Watoto Children’s Choir and even performed for Her Majesty the Queen. They’ve had incredible opportunities in life and look forward to attending university in the near future. Andrew wants to pursue a career in Marketing, and Mark wants to study Economic Development.  Andrew shared, “I believe Watoto is a platform of hope for vulnerable children, just like us. Mark and I are proof that they’re rescuing and raising future leaders.” Mark continued, “Being where I am today makes me feel that God has a plan for me—from the rubbish pit, to a person of influence.”   We believe that too. We’re so grateful to you, and all of our sponsors, for making dreams for kids like Mark and Andrew come true. Thanks for your faithful love and support.



Annual Stories


SPONSORSHIP A sponsor is a parent, a mentor, a friend—our family from all over the world. For ten years, Knut and Kathe Elin from Norway have been sponsoring and loving Sandra and Maria, from their childhood right into their late teens. Their support has met practical needs, like education, counseling and healthcare, but it’s also shown Uganda’s most vulnerable children that they belong to a wider family—a family that spans countries and continents. “We like to say that we’ve got two daughters at home, and two in Uganda. It’s such a privilege to all be together and see how Sandra and Maria have grown and changed.” For Sandra and Maria, Knut and Kathe Elin remind them that there are people who love them. For a whole decade, their letters and photos have been a special encouragement to these two young women. “We know that we’re a part of their family and loved. They’re always there for us, remembering us and providing for us. When they visited, we were blessed to show them our home and introduce them to our Ugandan family in return.” That’s what happens when a family from Norway opens their world to include two girls from Uganda. Thank you to every sponsor who’s done the same. You’re the parent, mentor and friend helping us raise Africa’s future leaders.



Sandra & Maria at Watoto’s Suubi village.

These are the smiles of two future journalists. Sandra and Maria have big dreams, to be the next Ugandan journalists telling the news with truth and integrity. Both girls lost their parents when they were just children. Because of sponsors like Knut and Kathe Elin, we were able to welcome them into a new family and home in Watoto. They’re both powering through school, with Sandra reading everything she can get her hands on, while Maria is one of the top students in her class. And they can do all this, because they know that they’re loved.

Annual Stories


SPORTS ACADEMY From a regional match to a friendly game after school, sports gives children the chance to shine. When you walk through a Watoto village, you can see a love of sports everywhere. From posters in rooms, to casual games in a circle, our kids are always running—and they’re often running after a ball. Our Sports Academy provides a chance to take a child’s natural love of the sport, and teaches them to play at their best with support and guidance from coaches. In basketball and soccer, teams learn to work together, pray together and play together. Above all, it’s a chance to grow in skill and character. Across the Watoto family, we’re seeing the positive impact of sports. Mothers, in particular, are amazed at the changes in their children and have loved seeing their confidence grow. These children are, in turn, providing a positive influence to other kids both inside and outside our Watoto villages. The coaches have worked hard to build a culture of respect, and our sports teams are known across Uganda for their attitude and the way they serve. We’re proud that they have a reputation for cleaning up the sports pitches before and after matches with teams from other schools. Small actions like these show the potential of our future leaders. For coaches like David, the role is really about stepping up and being a father-figure to children in the villages. “I love being a part of the children’s lives. Just recently, I was able to share my story with the kids that I’m also an orphan. They were inspired to know that I had the same background as them, but that I’d done something really good with my life. I think we’re really showing them the love and acceptance that a father would show, and it’s a real privilege.”



Theodore prepping for a match at Watoto’s Bbira village.

This year, 338 children participated in Sports Academy activities. And thanks to international partners, we were thrilled that we could give every child playing soccer or basketball appropriate footwear—it’s been a game-changer for us.

Annual Stories


LY D I A ’ S S T O R Y Lydia means “light”, and our basketball-loving daughter is busy lighting up the USA. Like any proud parent, we’re excited when great opportunities open up for our children. That’s why we’re thrilled that Lydia’s dedication to basketball has taken her on scholarship to a school in the USA. It’s an international experience that’s shaping her perspective on the world, allowing her



to impact others and preparing her to be a future leader. But looking at Lydia today, you wouldn’t guess her story. She lost both her parents when she was just a small child, and relatives struggled to care for her and her sister. They used to walk miles to get to school, desperate for any chance at an education, and when they made the long walk home, they never knew if there’d be food waiting for them. Her situation today couldn’t be more different. Lydia and her sister were rescued and brought into a new family on one of our Watoto villages. They were free to be children—no longer worrying about how they were going to live—and they had a new mother to love them as her own. With a firm foundation, Lydia flourished in school and joined the Watoto Sports Academy, where coaches recognized her talent and hard work in basketball. “The coaches really cared about us and they gave us so much training and encouragement. They told us that we should work hard to achieve our dreams.”

Lydia & Mrs. Riley at Victory Christian Center in N. Carolina.

Although her two favorite things are worshiping God and playing basketball, she never imagined that sports would take her overseas. Last year, Lydia was offered a scholarship for basketball to Victory Christian Center, in North Carolina, USA. Her coaches and teachers are all full of praise for her hard work and enthusiasm in her new school and new surroundings. We’re proud that she is growing, maturing and even leading others. “Lydia is a joy to have—she’s a light and an example to everyone she encounters,” says her principal, Mrs. Riley. “We’re expecting God to do amazing things in her life. It’s been a great experience for her to study internationally, and it’s been a good thing for us too. She shares her testimony with other children and encourages them—she’s already impacting those around her with her faith.” Whatever path she takes, the skills that Lydia has learned, both with us at Watoto and during her time in the USA, are preparing her to be a leader. Above all, she wants to help children who are suffering just like she did, especially those who have lost their parents. “I’m thankful for Watoto. I don’t know what would have happened to me without them. I believe that I’m a future leader who is going to change lives in Africa and help other children. I really want to give back to my country and I’m excited about this opportunity to further develop during my time here at Victory Christian Center.” And with all that heart and passion, we believe Lydia’s going to do just that.

Annual Stories


WORSHIP ACADEMY The Worship Academy is raising our children to share God’s love with the world. With over 200 students in creative, music and production, the Worship Academy is equipping young leaders with a skill and passion for worship. We believe that worship heals hearts, affirms identity and creates community. Last year, our children wrote and produced one of the songs, “Shepherd” on our new choir album, “We Will Go”. Together, they’re telling their own story and bringing hope to people across the world. We recently introduced traditional African instruments to our music curriculum. For drummers like Moses, it’s an opportunity to explore his local culture, improve his drumming skills and begin to develop a contemporary African sound. The Worship Academy has helped Moses to graduate from playing his mother’s pots and pans, to becoming a skilled musician, but he’s most grateful for the opportunity to worship.

Moses & Ben outside the Worship Academy.



“I think when we play together and lead people in worship, it reminds me that I’m a child of God. It makes me confident in who I am in Christ.”

PA R T N E R S H I P Over ten years ago, worship leader Martin Smith came to Watoto and planted the seed of what would become our Worship Academy. On his recent return visit, Martin saw for the first time the results of his 2008 trip. He experienced firsthand some of our students leading in worship, and it was a powerful moment for him. “I’m gobsmacked to see what’s been happening here— from the dance studio to the kids learning electric guitar. It’s fantastic to see that children who’ve been rescued are now looked after, and on top of all that they’re making brilliant music.” Martin continued, “Music and the arts bring lots of healing to people, don’t they?” Ben, who leads our Worship Academy, was part of the group that originally hosted Martin back in 2008 when Ben was still a teenager in Watoto. “When Martin visited that first time, I saw him stand where the Worship Academy is today, and he said, ‘I see an arts center training kids in music and worship.’ It blows my mind to share with him the songs we’ve written and the stories of how children’s lives have changed because of it. Thanks to partners like Martin, we’re raising kids to find healing and their identity as they learn to worship.”

Peter & Martin Smith take a selfie.

Annual Stories






A lot can happen in 25 years. In that time, we’ve sent 100 choirs around the world. From these choirs, we’ve seen children grow and live their dreams. We’ve also met thousands of people who’ve joined us in rescuing Africa’s future leaders. We think that’s something to celebrate. Our friend Martin Smith helped lead worship at our 25-Year Silver Jubilee celebration in Kampala. As we worshiped, we looked back, thanking God for how far He’s taken us. We also looked forward, praying and believing for the next 25 years. Annual Stories


2012, Watoto’s Children’s Choir meeting Her Majesty, the Queen of England.

It’s important to remember where you started. Back in 1994, Gary and Marilyn Skinner took a step of faith to tell the Watoto story around the world. Imagine traveling with a dozen children, who’ve never left their home, to perform in America. In the early days, Gary would drive a yellow school bus, in the winter, with no heater. That’s how the Watoto Children’s Choir was born. And today on almost every day of the year, the choir is performing somewhere in the world. When we look at our humble beginnings and where we are now, we can only say it’s because of God. Since the “school bus days”, our choirs have met Her Majesty, the Queen of England, performed for the President of the United States and visited almost every major parliament in the world. The education our kids receive while on tour is second to none. Imagine a school field trip where you visit Buckingham Palace and curtsey before the Queen. Yet, as remarkable as those moments have been, we cherish the times we’ve met ordinary people in their moment of pain. It’s amazing how Jesus heals. Often he brings healing to our deepest wounds when we reach out to help others. Our children tell us that when they share their stories and worship their Savior, it helps restore their broken hearts. When people see our children from Uganda, with their hearts healed and their dreams restored, when they see how God has placed the forgotten and abandoned in loving families—they can’t help but realize that this same God cares for them too. 2003, Watoto’s Children’s Choir meeting President George Bush.



B E AT R I C E ’ S S TO R Y It’s been 25 years since the Watoto Children’s Choir began. Several of those “cute kids” who were singing and dancing on stages are now adults, and many of them are beginning to take their place as leaders in our world. Including beautiful, vibrant Beatrice. “I thought I was the only one in darkness. But when we told our stories on tour, I realized that I wasn’t alone and that there’s a God who can change everything.”

Annual Stories


Beatrice with her Watoto mom, Susan.

With a quiet strength and dignity, Beatrice recalls that she was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army when she was just nine years old. That’s when her childhood ended. In the short time she was in the bush, Beatrice saw violence and death. She was beaten, kept hungry and given the life of a slave. One night, Beatrice and her friend put their fear aside, and faith in action, as they bravely made the choice to escape. Hearts pounding, they ran until their feet were swollen and bleeding, and their strength gave out. They found a hiding place to sleep, but Beatrice couldn’t stop coughing. Her friend covered Beatrice’s mouth to silence the noise, knowing any sound could lead to their recapture, which would mean certain death. In the morning, they found a road and their way back to their village. But life for Beatrice had changed. Ostracized by her community, Beatrice was embraced by Watoto and given a new home and the love of a family. Her Watoto mother helped her process what had happened and find hope again. In 2010, Beatrice was selected to take part in the Restore tour, one of our choirs that focused on the stories of former child soldiers. “The tour really helped me start to heal. Telling my story and forgiving the rebels made me feel like heavy stones were lifted from my heart. When I released all that bitterness, I felt light. And after the Restore tour, I began to believe in myself.”

Beatrice shows off a plate of beef curry.



Today, Beatrice is in the final year of her hotel management course. Once a child that went hungry in the bush, she’s become a young adult passionate about feeding and caring for others. Beatrice is now a Ugandan leader, changing her world and lifting others up with her.

WE WILL GO We’re honored to share the good news of Jesus around the world. At the heart of the Watoto Children’s Choir is a message carried by our children of God’s unfailing love. It’s what each of them have experienced in their own lives—He places abandoned and forgotten children in families full of love. In September 2018, our Watoto Children’s Choir began touring and performing songs from our latest album, “We Will Go.” Through this tour, we’re answering the call to go into the world and bring a story of hope to all who are lost and hurting. As we worship and thank God, we have the incredible opportunity to say to those we meet and watch us perform, “Jesus loves you. Every good thing he has done in my life, can happen for you. There is forgiveness, there is joy, there is a bright tomorrow—both in Africa and right here where you live.” Like Africa, the production is vibrant and colorful, taking you on an emotional journey from utter despair to joyous celebration. As the children share their personal testimonies and worship God, people are able to see firsthand the power of Jesus’ love transforming lives around the world.

Annual Stories






At Watoto, we have faith in Jesus. Yet we ask ourselves, what good is our faith if our brothers and sisters lack food or clothes and we do nothing? In Juba, South Sudan the need is staggering. Over the past 35 years, we’ve seen God use our faithin-action in Uganda to accomplish more than we could have ever imagined. We know that He can do the same in Juba. South Sudan’s future will be brighter than its past, because of what we do today.

Annual Stories


“With eyes of faith I see a miracle unfolding before me—where women and children will have their stories transformed. Mothers will raise up a generation who know the Lord and will transform the nation for His glory.”

-Vernita Rwotlonyo,

Watoto Neighbourhood

MARY’S STORY When you meet Mary Baga, you instantly see a deep joy shining through her beautiful smile. When asked to visit her home, images of a small thatched hut, maybe a goat or two, filled our minds. Yet, as we arrive in her community we get the sense that we stopped too early. “Where are the houses?” In the distance we see a group of children. Their curiosity leads them to our vehicle, and our curiosity leads us to them. The sun is relentless, acting more like an oven heating the rough sand as we walk. We notice the children tattered and worn—caked with an almost charcoal hue from the dirt. Some of the children wear no clothes at all, but they do their best to cover up. Their attempts at modesty convey a sense that they know they’re among the poorest, most forgotten people on earth. As we look around we discover Mary’s not there. She’s gone to find food. We ask, “Where’s her home?” We’re shown a nearby empty spot. Someone answers, “Her house was here, but the wind blew the tarp away.” Then it hits us all at once. This is it. These children without clothes are Mary’s (pictured on page 43). In this barren, rugged place we come to understand and feel the presence of God because we begin to feel His children’s pain. Mary’s story is far from over—it’s only the first act. Her old life is fading away as she’s discovered God’s love through Watoto. She’s learning business skills, receiving spiritual discipleship, and beginning to provide for her children. Mary’s finding out what it means to be empowered. Driving closer to town, we find Mary walking. Wearing her only dress, her smile paints a picture of her faith and belief in a better tomorrow. We’re committed to walking beside her and the other women in our neighbourhoods in South Sudan. Working with the community, we realize there’s a lot of work to be done. It’s your support that allows us to do the work that activates a faith that can move a mountain. We’re excited to see the future for Mary, her children, and thousands of women just like her.



Annual Stories


MEET REBECCA In 2016, everything changed for Rebecca. She and her husband were in an accident. He died— instantly, she found herself completely alone. Struggling with her hearing and speech, a friendship emerged giving her a determination to change her circumstances. “My neighbour introduced me to Watoto. Now I receive training making crafts so that I can support myself. I’m grateful because she helps explain what is being taught.” Watoto is a community filled with friends that will help each other when life seems unbearable. Rebecca’s life has purpose because her neighbours in Juba, and around the world, cared.



MEET GISMA “My best subject is science. When I grow up I want to become a doctor.”   At 15 years old, Gisma is getting pretty close to making her dreams a reality. She goes to class with her best friend Gloria, she  loves science, and now through Keep a Girl in School, she no longer worries about missing out on an education because of her periods. We should all feel better knowing that someday, Dr. Gisma might see us as a patient. We can’t wait.

Annual Stories


S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y We’re feeding a lot of hungry mouths. With three busy villages, full of families, we know it’s important to work towards self-sustainability. Our Watoto farms provide fresh vegetables and eggs for our villages, and goats milk for Baby Watoto. By producing wholesome food for our mothers and children, we’re reducing our expenses on food and healthcare. More importantly, we’re giving our families the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and strong. Our farms also provide learning and employment opportunities for our young adults and local farmers in our communities. Last year, in partnership with experts from the College of the Ozarks and the University of Arkansas, we began developing a fully integrated agribusiness located outside Gulu, northern Uganda. This will serve the dual-purpose of producing food for our Watoto mothers and children, as well as providing technical training and experience for Watoto graduates. With this project we strive to raise leaders in Uganda’s agricultural sector. Wherever we operate, our goal is to empower individuals and facilitate community transformation. We’re grateful to every partner who continues to come alongside us as we develop a bright, sustainable future for our children.



WHERE WE ARE Watoto began in 1983 in Kampala, Uganda. As the ministry grew, so did the need to facilitate support. Today, we have 11 support offices throughout the world where our partners and sponsors live. Each office is regulated by a local Board of Directors, ensuring good practice at all levels. This support has allowed us to expand our work to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our neighbourhoods. Take a look at the map below to see where our work is taking place throughout Africa.









Annual Stories


MESSAGE FROM WATOTO CANADA Dear Watoto Partners, 2018 was once again a wonderful year for Watoto! Because of the faithfulness of our partners and supporters, we were able to care for thousands of vulnerable women and children in Uganda and South Sudan, showing them the love of Jesus in a tangible way. In 2018, Watoto was able to rescue 87 babies, help keep almost 6,000 girls in school, and embrace and empower 921 vulnerable women, also directly impacting the lives of their children. We also were able to continue caring for almost 3,000 children in our three villages, where they receive food, clothing, education, spiritual discipleship and have their medical needs met. Last year, 118 of our young adults graduated from university and vocational school, ready to enter the workforce and be a light in their respective fields. In 2018, we saw Canadians not only give generously of their finances, with over $6,000,000 raised for the work of Watoto, but people also gave of their time and energy. We had 14 individual volunteers, seven teams comprised of a total of 50 people, and four other individuals who joined teams from around the world, go to Uganda and participate in seeing what God is doing firsthand, while using their talents and abilities to bless the people of Uganda. We cannot say thank you enough for being the hands and feet of Jesus. Our theme at Watoto for 2019 is “Faith Over Fear.” In a world plagued by fear, we choose to have Faith in God, trusting that He is at work, and “He who began a good work….will be faithful to complete it.” At Watoto, we believe there is still much more to be done, so we continue to invest in the future. That’s why we’ve begun construction on the Bobi Agricultural College in northern Uganda, where Watoto young adults, and others from the community will be able to get a world class education in agriculture, while working their way through college to graduate without debt. This project will help us raise Uganda’s future leaders, as we positively impact the food supply in Northern Uganda. I encourage you to read every story in this report, and know that each of these numbers represents a person with a name whose life has been changed forever because of your faithfulness. As you give and support Watoto, you are making a difference. Thank you and may God richly bless you! For the children,

Lorne Hamlyn Country Director, Watoto Canada



WATOTO C A N A D A We are grateful for you, our partners who help bring hope and transformation to Africa’s most vulnerable. Our Watoto Canada office loves the opportunity to connect with each of you and celebrate what we’ve been able to achieve together in 2018. Below are just a few highlights showing the difference you’re making.

Annual Stories


WATOTO CANADA FINANCIALS INDEPENDENT AUDITOR’S REPORT Qualified Opinion We have audited the financial statements of Watoto Canada, which comprise the statement of financial position as at December 31, 2018, the statement of designated funds, and the statements of operations and changes in net assets and cash flows for the year then ended, and notes to the financial statements, including a summary of significant accounting policies. In our opinion, except for the effects of the matter described in the Basis for Qualified Opinion section of our report, the accompanying financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Ministry as at December 31, 2018, and its results of operations and its cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with Canadian accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations (“ASNPO”). Basis for Qualified Opinion In common with many not-for-profit organizations, the Ministry derives revenue from fundraising activities the completeness of which is not susceptible to satisfactory audit verification. Accordingly, verification of these revenues was limited to the amounts recorded in the records of the Ministry. Therefore, we were not able to determine whether any adjustments might be necessary to fundraising revenue, excess of revenues over expenses, and net assets for the year ended December 31, 2018. Our audit opinion on the financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2018 was modified accordingly because of the possible effects of this limitation in scope. We conducted our audit in accordance with Canadian generally accepted auditing standards. Our responsibilities under those standards are further ,described in the Auditor’s Responsibilities for the Audit of the Financial Statements section of our report. We are independent of the Ministry in accordance with the ethical requirements that are relevant to our audit of the financial statements in Canada, and we have fulfilled our other ethical responsibilities in accordance with these requirements. We believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our qualified opinion. Responsibilities of Management and Those Charged with Governance for the Financial Statements Management is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements in accordance with ASNPO, and for such internal control as management determines is necessary to enable the preparation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error. In preparing the financial statements, management is responsible for assessing the Ministry’s ability to continue as a going concern, disclosing, as applicable, matters related to going concern and using the going concern basis of accounting unless management either intends to liquidate the Ministry or to cease operations, or has no realistic alternative but to do so. Those charged with governance are responsible for overseeing the Ministry’s financial reporting process. Auditor’s Responsibilities for the Audit of the Financial Statements Our objectives are to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error, and to issue an auditor’s report that includes our opinion. Reasonable assurance is a high level of assurance, but is not a guarantee that an audit conducted in accordance with Canadian generally accepted auditing standards will always detect a material misstatement when it exists. Misstatements can arise from fraud or error and are considered material if, individually or in the aggregate, they could reasonably be expected to influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of these financial statements. As part of an audit in accordance with Canadian generally accepted auditing standards, we exercise professional judgment and maintain professional skepticism throughout the audit. We also: • Identify and assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error, design and perform audit procedures responsive to those risks, and obtain audit evidence that is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our opinion. The risk of not detecting a material misstatement resulting from fraud is higher than for one resulting from error, as fraud may involve collusion, forgery, intentional om1ss10ns, misrepresentations, or the override of internal control. • Obtain an understanding of internal control relevant to the audit in order to design audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Ministry’s internal control. • Evaluate the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of accounting estimates and related disclosures made by management. • Conclude on the appropriateness of management’s use of the going concern basis of accounting and, based on the audit evidence obtained, whether a material uncertainty exists related to events or conditions that may cast significant doubt on the Ministry’s ability to continue as a going concern. If we conclude that a material uncertainty exists, we are required to draw attention in our auditor’s report to the related disclosures in the financial statements or, if such disclosures are inadequate, to modify our opinion. Our conclusions are based on the audit evidence obtained up to the date of our auditor’s report. However, future events or conditions may cause the Ministry to cease to continue as a going concern. • Evaluate the overall presentation, structure and content of the financial statements, including the disclosures, and whether the financial statements represent the underlying transactions and events in a manner that achieves fair presentation. We communicate with those charged with governance regarding, among other matters, the planned scope and timing of the audit and significant audit findings, including any significant deficiencies in internal control that we identify during our audit.

Langley, British Columbia June 22, 2019



Chartered Professional Accountants


REVENUES Sponsorship Houses/Schools and Sustainability Visit Watoto Funds


General Contributions

EXPENDITURES Sponsorship Houses/Schools and Sustainability

4,045,215 507,899 227,157


4,045,098 486,155


Visit Watoto Funds Product Costs General Expenditures Total Program Services



SUPPORT SERVICES Management and Administration



Total Support Services Total Expenses

$ $

295,016 6,320,171

Net Income Net Assets at Year End

$ $

(65,744) 874,222

Total Contributions



OTHER REVENUES Interest Income Product Sales


6,648 244,268

Total Other Revenues Total Revenues

$ $

250,916 6,254,427

231,076 76,727 1,186,099



Program Services

Management & General

Annual Stories





Profile for Watoto Ministries

Annual Stories 2018 - Canada  

Annual Stories 2018 - Canada