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FARMINGTON — Pastor Craig Montroy says he expects a full house when a Ugandan children's choir performs next week at First Baptist Church in Bloomfield.

The church auditorium seats 650, and about 600 free tickets had been given out by Thursday, Montroy said.

The Watoto Children's Choir, an 18-member choir from Uganda, will perform at the church on Saturday, Jan. 23.

The concert will be free, but donations can be made to support Watoto Child Care Ministries, an organization that provides housing for Ugandan orphans and organizes choirs of the children to tour the world.

The ministry houses more than 3,000 orphans in three Ugandan village. The villages are comprised of homes that each house eight orphans and a house mother. Each village also includes a medical clinic, a community center, a church, a school and an agricultural project.

"They're raised in families in the village," said Aubrey Hudson, communications director for Watoto.

Choir members are chosen based on good behavior and grades in school.

"It's something that they look forward to. It's a privilege for them," Hudson said, adding that after proper training, the children travel the world to perform concerts.

Hudson said the concerts offer something for everybody.

"It's a blend of music that was written by the Watoto staff, as well as traditional," Hudson said.

During the concerts, audiences can also see videos from the Ugandan villages and listen to choir members share their stories.

Montroy first heard the choir perform about 10 years ago in Pittsburgh and recalled the experience as "almost indescribable."

After learning the choir was touring the southwestern U.S. this year, Montroy said he invited the choir to Bloomfield. This will mark the first time the Watoto Children's Choir will visit San Juan County.

Montroy said the concerts tend to attract large numbers partially because of the hope the choir represents.

"There's just a lot of things stacked against children," he said. "Especially in Africa."

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

If you go

What: Watoto Children's Choir concert

When: 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23

Where: First Baptist Church of Bloomfield, 200 W. Sycamore Ave.

More info: Go to watoto.com.

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