The children’s choir of Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda, in east Africa, is touring the United States for six months, performing at churches and other venues.

Out-of-town visitors: The children’s choir of Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda, in east Africa, is touring the United States for six months, performing at churches and other venues. Watoto has been around since the late 1980s, serving those stricken by the HIV crisis and other issues.

For instance, the lack of regular medical care for many is a huge challenge. “It is gut-wrenching,” says Deana Belote, Watoto’s retail coordinator, based in Springfield, Mo. (She oversees the sale of jewelry, clothing and other items made by mothers with HIV, also part of the Watoto ministry.)

The choir – made up of orphaned children ages 8 to 12 – helps tell the ministry’s story. The choir has performed with such well-known artists as contemporary Christian singer Chris Tomlin. (There are lots of Watoto videos and Chris Tomlin-with-Watoto videos on YouTube.) “He is a very big supporter of Watoto,” said Belote.

Problem and solution: The group was in the area last week, performing at a church in Lee’s Summit. Belote noticed that one young man traveling with the group was having some obvious vision problems. “He was really challenged,” she said, adding that none of the children has insurance.

Belote and her husband used to live and work in Blue Springs, and she reached out to a friend at Blue Springs Optical, 1116 S.W. U.S. 40. Could something be done? Sure, was the answer, but why stop there?

“They closed the office for several hours and screened all of the children and adults,” Belote said. The optometrists and the staff took the time for 32 people: eye exams for 22 children and 10 adults – and two children and three adults needed glasses, which were provided.

“I honestly could not believe their generosity,” Belote said.

Pattern of giving: Dr. Rich Wilson, one of the three optometrists who screened the Watoto group, said many of those in the practice have done similar work on mission trips.

“I think it’s what we’re called to do,” he said.

So this request was easy.

“This mission came right to our doorstep,” he said. “You can’t not do it.”

The bigger picture: Belote says conditions in Uganda are rough but that helping children in a Christian setting is a way to make things better.

“We are seeing hope,” she said.

Wilson put it this way: “We have resources, and we have to give back to the community in some fashion, even if it is the world community.”

A clearer vision: Belote said glasses made a huge difference for one young member of the choir.

“He said he could see the people in the audience,” she said, “and I don’t think he could ever do that before.”