Kings, Queens & A Spontaneous Hug [PHOTOS]
Been a while since I've blogged on this site. Have been ultra busy with the global Colour marathon, of which we will give you some great praise reports soon. However this morning our dear friend Marilyn sent me this article. As some of you may know, the WATOTO children were invited to participate in the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Such a beautiful honour.
One of children broke protocol and spontaneously hugged the Queen when they were being introduced. What followed was a brilliant article in the UK Telegraph. I asked Marilyn if I could post it so that those in our world (including the many women of the Colour Sisterhood who have contributed to this ministry over the years) could rejoice. I love that the reporter included this little girls love for her nation AND JESUS. Enjoy, be blessed and lets continue to pray for these children and the influence they bring.
For more information and to register for Colour Conference, please visit colourconference.com
Child's innocent hug brings smile to the face of the Queen
Story by Patrick Sawer, and Robert Mendick for The Telegraph (UK), 13 May, 2012
Photos by Steve Parsons and Warren Allott
It was a simple gesture; a child’s innocent hug that brought a smile to the face of the Queen.
Amid the grandiose surroundings of St George’s Hall in Windsor Castle — 4,000 miles and a world away from her village in Uganda — Lydia Amito stood in line waiting to meet the monarch.
But dispensing with the normal formalities, Lydia, orphaned at the age of one, could not help herself.
Stepping forward, she suddenly embraced the Queen in a spontaneous hug, her head resting on Her Majesty’s shoulder.
“I was so excited about meeting the Queen,” Lydia, aged 10, told The Sunday Telegraph yesterday.
“I hugged her because she is the Queen and she was very nice. Before I met her I had seen pictures of her so I knew what she looked like. It was great to meet her in the castle where she lives.”
The little girl, a broad smile across her face, added: “Visiting Windsor Castle was amazing. I never imagined anyone could live in such a big house.
“It is much bigger than mine. There was a painting of a king which kept following us around the room with his eyes. It was amazing.”
Lydia’s journey from her war-torn home in northern Uganda to the inner sanctum at Windsor Castle is a remarkable, and deeply moving, one.
She is a member of the 22-strong Watoto Children’s Choir, part of a charity set up 18 years ago to care for the thousands of children orphaned in the country.
Lydia’s father was murdered by a rebel army and her mother died soon after from disease.
Tonight , the choir will sing in front of the Queen as part of the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, a four-day celebration that culminates with this evening’s performance in the private grounds of Windsor Castle.
The pageant is one of the major events to mark the jubilee, with a cast involving celebrities, musicians and performers, among them more than 1,000 dancers and 550 horses from around the world.
On Friday, Lydia and some of the other pageant cast members, including Aboriginal dancers and Masai tribesmen, met the Queen at a tea party to celebrate the event.
It was a moment that Lydia Amito will never forget; a moment of joy after a difficult childhood.
For she has seen things no child should have to witness.
When she was barely one, her father, Walter, was murdered by rebel troops belonging to Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army during their savage campaign in northern Uganda. A few months later her mother, Margaret, was admitted to hospital suffering from a severe illness.
She never returned home, leaving Lydia and her six brothers and sisters alone in the world.
It is a measure of the work of Watoto, which runs a network of villages throughout Uganda currently caring for 2,500 children orphaned by war, poverty and disease, that Lydia is far from being a broken casualty of conflict.
On stage with her friends, all of them children who have experienced deep trauma in their short lives, she sings, dances and ululates to her heart’s content.
“Singing makes me feel good,” she said after another performance yesterday afternoon. “It makes me forget the bad things that happened.”
When Kony’s troops entered Lydia’s village of Palabek nine years ago, as part of their guerrilla insurgency against the Ugandan government, they massacred all who stood in their way.
“They killed my father when I was only one year old,” she explained. “I don’t remember it because I was small, but it was soldiers who killed him.
“A few months later my mother died of disease and my eldest sister Jane had to look after us.”
The children were taken in by one of the village women until they were sent to one of the Watoto villages, established nearby as peace slowly returned to the Gulu region.
Her village is spacious and consists of brick and concrete huts, their roofs covered with corrugated iron.
Here, Lydia and the others were able to attend school, receive medical care and undergo counselling to help them overcome the suffering they had endured.
Watoto workers such as Stephen Banyikiza, 30, call it a process of healing. “We rescue these children from terrible circumstances and try to raise them as leaders so they can help build a better country,” he said.
“As a result, they are no longer victims, but children who want to grow up to become doctors, lawyers, bank managers and bus drivers.”
The children live in extended families looked after by an adoptive “house mother” who has frequently lost her own children.
“The children and their house mothers heal each other. She finds a new family and they find a new mother,” said Mr Banyikiza.
The choir tours Britain annually, first performing at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2008, after a chance meeting between Marilyn Skinner, one of Watoto’s founders, and a member of the Royal household.
Communications were maintained and the invitation to perform at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant followed.
As part of their trip the children spent a day and a night with a host family in Windsor, arranged through Watoto’s contacts with churches in Britain. For Lydia this included a trip to a local bowling alley. “It was really fun,” she said.
Back home, she has a house mother who takes great care of her. “My Watoto house mother, Mama Santa, is very nice and good,” said Lydia, “She looks after me. I feel much better living with her in the village. I love singing with the other children.”
Lydia already knows what she wants to do when she grows up.
“I want to be a nurse because if people are sick then I can help them. There’s a nurse in our village and I look at the work she does. That’s what I want to do.”
Before preparing for her next performance, Lydia gives another hug — this time to a Sunday Telegraph reporter — before skipping off to play football with her fellow choristers in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Among the songs they will sing for the Queen tonight will be
Beautiful Africa, written to express their hope that, with God’s help, there will be a better future for the continent.
“It’s a song about my country and about Jesus,” said Lydia, barely containing her excitement.
“I never thought I would meet the Queen and then get to sing
for her. I’m really looking forward to it.”
For more information on Watoto please visit watoto.com
Hillsong Collected is a blog. It is an ongoing collection of thoughts and stories from the leadership and key team of Hillsong Church around the world, conveniently packaged in three different streams.
We want to inspire and encourage everyday people that your efforts and contributions can and will make a difference. So take a look around, make yourself at home and check back often.
For more information about Hillsong Church and our community initiatives please visit hillsong.com
Get Collected For You in your inbox.