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Rwanda Youth Music, from Idea to Reality
July 10, 2012   Rwanda
Dear friends,It has been a while since the last update. So much is going on that we barely have time to stop, take a breath, and thank everyone for their support and enthusiasm.

In short, Rwanda Youth Music is a reality. We will go back to Rwanda in two weeks to continue the project together with the inspiring twenty youth leaders and hundreds of children in the program. This time, we will be joined by local musicians that were recruited in May this year. We will sing, play, drum, and record! One of our new partners is the Kigali Music School, a young institution working to provide music education for children and youth in Rwanda.

One of the school’s main activities is an outreach program that every week brings teachers to slum neighborhoods, hospitals, and centers, to teach those who cannot afford it, and to use the healing power of music with those who need it most. They specifically focus on traumatized or orphaned children and youth who still carry the scars of the genocide or its consequences. They also give small performances and do music workshops with women and young girls, victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. We have launched a fund-raiser for the music school, which is struggling to survive. Please donate if you can:


In 2010 we traveled to Rwanda and Uganda not knowing what we will find. We met so many wonderful people and organizations, and did music workshops with hundreds of children and women all around the countries. We are so grateful to have found WE-ACTx, the Rwandan medical organization taking care of thousands of HIV-positive patients, among them hundreds of children and youth. And so, Rwanda Youth Music was born in summer 2010.

Click here for more photos from our 2010 assessment trip to Rwanda and Uganda
In 2011 we returned to give music workshops in the summer, and together with the youth leaders and WE-ACTx decided to create a yearlong project instead of only once a year in the summers. It hasn’t been easy, but we managed to raise just enough funds, mainly thanks to individual donors like you, and start an intensive training program for the youth leaders.
Click here for more photos from the 2011 training

In 2012, we have already given two week-long workshops to the youth leaders in February and in May, and now are getting ready for a longer 3-weeks training in July-August.

In February, Otto de Jong and Joey Blake, a professor  of voice from Berklee College of Music, worked with the youth leaders, working on voice training and pedagogy.

 Click here for more photos from the February training

The talented documentary filmmaker Micha Hilliard created a short documentary film about the program after joining MwB team in February 2012:

Lydia Hsu, an independent journalist living in Rwanda, wrote an article about the February training and Joey’s visit: American Jazz maestro empowers HIV patients via music

In April 2012, Dutch Jazz singer and Musicians without Borders Ambassador, Denise Jannah, traveled to Rwanda to give workshops and performances to hundreds of children and their families at WE-ACTx programs. The event was sponsored by the Dutch Embassy.

Click here to see more photos from Denise’s workshops

An article about Denise’s visit can be read here: Jazz star graces Music Family Day

In May, Laura Hassler, MwB director, Danny Felsteiner and Joey Blake, traveled to Rwanda to give another training week, and work on fund raising. We focused on voice training, singing, and songwriting.

Click here for more photos from May

Two articles were published about the May work:
– Musicians without Borders brings hope and healing through music, on Rwanda New Times
– Using music to heal, on The Independent

In May 2012, we have also recruited three talented local musicians: Kim Thuita, Aline Gahongayire, and Moise Mutangana. They work with the youth leaders on a weekly basis, strengthening their musical skills.

Click here for more photos from the weekly trainings

Again, I would like to thank all our donors for their support.

In peace,
Danny Felsteiner

Topics: Rwanda