"When we start a workshop in a refugee center, many of us are strangers to each other. Yet, generally, within a few minutes we are playing together with the openheartedness of children. That’s the power of music – it bridges the divides of language, origin, cultures and customs. It can lift a weary heart and heal trust that has been broken. What a way to welcome new people to my country!"
- Franka, workshop leader
In honor of World Refugee Day and World Wide Music Day (June 20-21), join us in promoting access to music as a fundamental human right and a celebration of diversity, freedom and equality. The continuation of our work with refugees and war-torn communities depends on your support. Please give today, any amount helps.
On September 21st, World Peace Day, we will begin a new training program in MwB Community Music Leadership for 30 people from Burundi living at the Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda. The camp has been established since February 2015, and now hosts around 50,000 people from Burundi, over half of whom are children. We will train a mixture of support workers and musicians from the camp’s population, to have the skills to use music and nonviolent approaches to give vital support to children and young people living in the refugee community. Many children arrive unaccompanied and vulnerable in their new environment. Our training program will be implemented over the coming 9 months, in partnership with PLAN International Rwanda, as they work to provide protection particularly for children and women in the camp.
Alongside this training project, our team of previously graduated MwB Community Music Leaders will travel to refugee camps across Rwanda as part of our outreach program. Initial evaluation of their music workshops has shown profound benefits for the children participating. We have seen that music workshops at a reception centre for refugees arriving from Burundi, showed positive effects on the mood and sense of connection felt by young children:
In the first month of the outreach program, MwB Community Music Leaders worked with over 1000 children living in refugee camps. Over the coming year we aim to reach 3000 more. The new leaders we will begin training at Mahama camp have the potential to work with 1000s more children and young people.
Thank you for helping us to make this work of healing and hope possible for refugee children and youth in this afflicted region.
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 a training 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 José Tomas and Alex Garrobé.