Ugandan children's choir trapped in New Zealand make most of COVID-19 pandemic

A Ugandan children's choir that travelled to New Zealand at the start of the year are still in the country after their performances were cancelled due to COVID-19.

But the group - some as young as nine-years-old - have made the most of the extra time here and have now registered to return home.   

The group of 12 young children make up the 107th Watoto Children's Choir. Each year, seven choirs from the church in Uganda travel to different countries and perform on the road for months at a time, helping raise awareness about vulnerable children and women back home, leader Gloria Okecho says.

"The big picture is to bring a message of hope to the world."

They arrived in New Zealand in February and were meant to spend three months here before travelling to Australia. They've been stuck here since lockdown and a local church has put them up.

"Everyone that we've met says 'are you guys fine', 'where are you guys from', 'are you doing fine'. That care from everyone," Marvin Okecho, another leader, says.

"We've had a few times where we've eaten out. The kids love KFC. They love KFC any day any time," Gloria says.

There have been some other stand-out activities too.

"My time has been good because it was my first time to travel," choir member Daisy says.

"I've enjoyed the beaches, I really enjoy swimming, I've been learning how to swim, and it was my first time swimming in the beach," choir member Alvin says.

The choir has registered to return to Uganda now the country is allowing residents to return home. 

While they wait, they've managed to fit in some of their missed performances.

"For the meantime, we are like you know what, as we are waiting, why not keep performing if there's an opportunity," Marvin says.

"Doing what we actually came to do," Gloria adds.

A different experience from the one they had planned, but special memories for these young children.