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WAR DIVIDES, MUSIC CONNECTS
Using music to bridge divides, connect communities,
and heal the wounds of war and conflict.
August 1, 2010 •• Rwanda Youth Music
Umuganda and Another Women Support Group
A report by Fabienne

Today our meeting with the Rwandan and American youth leaders was postponed, because today it is Umuganda, which is a monthly national Rwandan holiday. Every last Saturday of the month, all Rwandan citizens are expected to devote their morning to cleaning the streets and their environment. Cars are prohibited, shops are closed, and everyone is seen wth a broom and mop (or the Rwandan equivalent). So it was a good time for me to do some hand laundry, especially after the 15-hour trip we had yesterday with the children from the summer camp (about which Danny will write later). The water of the laundry turned completely brown-red, a nice souvenir from driving through the African dust.

On Thursday, after the summer camp with the children, I had another music workshop with a different women support group. This time 18 women attended, as well as a local trauma counselor. It was a huge challenge for me because the counselor did not speak English and both her and my (but especially my) French are far from perfect. Anyhow, the combination of a trauma counselor and a musician was interesting, because the trauma counselor could use some of the music material and processes for her work with the women. For example, when I asked the women for their wishes to write a song in Kinyarwanda, they had a discussion led by the counselor about wishes for their future and about the things that really matter in life.

These are the words the women came up with:

Ndifuza urukundo
Ndifuza Ubumwe
Ndifuza Ubusabane
Ndifuza Guseka
Ndifuza Kubyine

I wish for love
I wish for unity
I wish for friendship
I wish to smile
I wish to dance

I used a beautiful melody from the Rahbani brothers that was surprisingly easy to learn for the women and we sang the song together. Because the women’s identity must be kept secret, and the personal, sensitive and emotional nature of the workshops, I can not take photos, videos or record during the workshop. Although I don’t like hearing my own voice, and I’m definitely not a singer, I thought this blog entry could use some music… so I recorded the song just with my voice. Please use your imagination to hear the voices of these beautiful and strong women while listening to the song!

Click here to download the MP3 recording

The wish to smile and dance that was expressed in the song, came back in the evaluation. One woman said: “We can not smile or laugh at home, we are not allowed to, and anyhow there is no reason to smile. But during the music workshop we were free to express ourselves and smile and laugh!”And another one added: “We don’t do sport and don’t have physical exercise, today we got the chance to move and that feels good.”


In the beginning of the workshop I noticed that some of the women showed problems moving freely. Their movements were not fluent or very restricted, and sometimes it seemed as if they couldn’t control their limbs, but this completely disappeared during the workshop and at the end everyone danced and moved freely.

I thank these women for giving me so much inspiration and motivation, and I truly hope that MwB will be able to set up a project here to empower this important group in the society. Rev. Emmanuel, with whom we worked in Cyangugu, said: “If we cure the women, we cure the society, because the society is dependent on the women.”
•• Topics Rwanda Youth Music