Last week we gave the second period of training in Community Music Leadership to 30 young people from Burundi who live as refugees at Mahama camp in Rwanda. On the fourth day of training the 30 young leaders ran workshops with children in the camp to practice their new skills. The happiness we witnessed was striking.
Every day the young leaders work with 100s of children in the camp, incorporating musical approaches into the support that they provide. Their work is in Child Friendly Spaces, established in the camp as part of the child-protection program set up by our partner organization PLAN International Rwanda. The spaces are a safe place for vulnerable children. Music offers creativity, community and joy in an environment of stagnation, isolation and hardship.
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.