UPLAND (CBSLA.com) — A local church in the Inland Empire was filled with the joyous sounds of the Watoto Children’s Choir, which is touring the Southland.

Based in Kampala, Africa, the group visited Western Christian in Upland and shared its message and love and peace on Thursday.

“All the children that we have here have either been abandoned or they have lost one or both of their parents to HIV or they are victims of the war,” choir Director Lucy Atim told KCAL9’s Tom Wait.

Atim explained that the decades-long war in northern Uganda tore many families apart, including Joel Okello’s.

“My father was abducted and killed by the rebels during the war in northern Uganda,” he said.

Okello, only 13 years old, also lost his mother.

“At that time, I was left in the care of my auntie and my grandfather who were too poor to look after me,” he said.

Watoto took in Okello, along with hundreds of other children.

“Watoto is holistic. We look after them. We give them the health, education, and, of course, spiritual because we’re a church,” said Atim.

The Watoto Children’s Choir was launched as a way to raise awareness about Uganda’s troubles.

Thursday’s performance was just one of many for the choir, which travels internationally.

“Our goal is to raise them to be the future generation and the future leaders of Uganda and we hope they will turn the whole country around for the better,” Atim said.

The choir is expected to perform at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Redondo Beach on Friday.

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