Last week MwB Community Music Leaders gave music workshops to over 1000 young people living in refugee camps in Rwanda. This is just the beginning of our new outreach program in partnership with PLAN International, which aims to provide support through music to thousands of young refugees in Rwanda during this coming year.
In December 2014, Rwanda hosted 74,000 refugees, with the majority coming from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As of this week, the UNHCR cites a further 74,000 refugees who have arrived from Burundi this year. To begin our outreach program we worked across this refugee population, beginning in one of the oldest camps in Rwanda, established in 1996, and home to refugees from DRC. We then travelled to newly established reception centres that were set up this year to receive refugees from Burundi.
The workshop leaders each worked with groups of between 50-100 children, and returned from their trips with broad smiles and great affection for the people they had met. They reported the joy they had experienced, and the relationships they had begun to establish. Initial evaluation of the music workshops shows that the young participants also recognised profound effects to their moods and their sense of connection. We will continue to monitor the impact of music and nonviolent leadership approaches in this program.
Alongside this outreach program, in September we will begin to train MwB Community Music Leaders from within the refugee population. In this way, we will embed music and nonviolent approaches within the support services available for young people living within refugee camps.
In September 2012, Chris Nicholson set up a music therapy program for people living with HIV and AIDS at a clinic in urban central Rwanda. In September 2013 he returned to continue his therapy work with vulnerable HIV+ adolescents and to establish training a program in Music & Health. He is Project Manager of Rwanda Youth Music and Tanzania Youth Music. Prior to his involvement with music therapy, Chris had an international performance and teaching career as a classical guitarist. He studied classical guitar at the Royal Academy of Music, London, and in Spain with maestros Jose Tomas and Alex Garrobe.