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WAR DIVIDES, MUSIC CONNECTS
Using music to bridge divides, connect communities,
and heal the wounds of war and conflict.
September 4, 2010 •• Rwanda Youth Music
Empower African Children!
Youth during music workshops at Empower African Children’s house

“Music has made me what I am. It has made me self-confident. I don’t know where I would be today without music.”

This was said in the end of a two-days training workshop we gave at Empower African Children house. It was said by B, a teenager whose story appears in the book Transcendent Spirit: The Orphans of Uganda, a telling and mesmerizing account of text and photographs of Ugandan orphans (photographs: Douglas Menuez, text: Rachel Scheier). Here’s a quote from B’s story in the book:
On the night of March 2, 1998, rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army crept into the tiny Ugandan village of Pacho. They hacked 11 people to death with machetes and burned their huts to the ground. Thirty-eight children were orphaned. Among them, little B.
The LRA, a murderous insurgent group that has terrorized northern Uganda for more than 2 decades, is most infamous for kidnapping village children and transforming them into child soldiers and sex slaves. B, then 5, and the other children of Pacho, were spared that night only because they were sleeping on the floor of a school several kilometers away when the rebels attacked—a safety practice known locally as “night commuting”.
B and his older brother, N, got news of the attack as they walked back to the village the next morning. B’s mother died when he was an infant, so he was particularly dependent upon his father. B and N watched with horror that day as their father and the other victims of the LRA attack were hurriedly buried in shallow graves.
We strongly recommend that you order the book to support the EAC project, by placing your order through the website of Empower African Children: http://www.empowerafricanchildren.org
The 28 participants of the music training workshops that we gave at the EAC house welcomed us with a captivating performance of traditional African dance and music, which left us dumbstruck. During the workshops they proved to be so inspiring, talented and engaged, that we could really not hope for any better conclusion to our trip.

The girls performing for us
Empower African Children is a young, animated and vibrant organization which is set to provide a home and education to orphans and children at risk. They are currently building a school that will incorporate innovative forms of education, which will focus on students creativity, expression and preparation to real life.

The boys performing traditional dance, and drumming

The current group of children and youth at the EAC house have been traveling and performing traditional African music and dance, speaking about the situation in Uganda, their lives’ stories, and giving workshops. From what we have seen and heard, they are absolutely extraordinary, and they want to give, and to teach others in their communities and other countries about the local culture and promote empowerment among other children and youth across the region.

Improvising with sticks
During the workshops, we improvised a lot, individually, in groups, and as a whole, and the vibe was so energetic and fun and musical, that everyone couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. We promise to post videos when we come back to Jerusalem, but meanwhile use your imagination with the following audio bits:

Click here to listen to / download the traditional Ugandan song.

Click here to listen to / download the sticks improvisation  session.
•• Topics Rwanda Youth Music