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our work > news > Interview: Shyaka Allison, Rwanda Youth Music
Interview: Shyaka Allison, Rwanda Youth Music
September 10, 2019   Rwanda

How long have you been at MWB? How were you initially introduced to MWB?

I have been at Musicians Without Borders for 5 years. One of my colleagues contacted me and asked if I was interested in volunteering at the Musicians Without Borders’ training program and a few weeks later I was translating for the Community Music Leadership training in Rwanda.

Have you always had a connection with music?

I always had a connection with music, back in the days when I was in primary school and secondary school I was entertainment prefect and I was a member of different clubs that were all related to music! When I was about 8 years old my mum took me to a guitar lesson, but my teacher was lazy I guess since I didn’t learn much then!

Shyaka Allison, Program Coordinator

What role do you think MWB is playing in your community in Rwanda

MWB plays an enormous role in my community. In my culture music means, singing, composing, playing an instrument or dancing; without those things you’re not considered a musician. MWB came in and showed people that anyone can make music without singing or playing an instrument. Community music activities proved that everyone can make music with little training and you can carry a 15 minutes workshop. MWB helped the group overcome their fears, become confident and think about the future.

What has been the greatest challenge for MWB in Rwanda so far?

Our greatest challenge has been not being able to train more people due to different reasons. One example would be people who are in conflict or refugees that fled due to wars in their country, this is our main target audience. Due to the sensitivity of circumstances, we need to get permission to train these people, so that they can also have that sense of hope and creativity, however, getting that permission is still our greatest challenge.

Do you see MWB growing in other countries in Africa?

Yes, when MWB started its program in Africa they started in Rwanda in 2010 and the first group was trained in 2012.After few years We trained people in Tanzania, Uganda Congolese and Burundian Refugees based in Rwanda and now we are training people from Congo and our vision is to take music to different countries especially the ones with wars and conflicts because we have seen what music can do to bring peace, harmony and hope.

What is the biggest change you have seen in the community since MWB’s inception in Rwanda?

The biggest change I have seen is with our core team which are mostly people living or affected by HIV. Before they joined the program their level of self-esteem was really low and they didn’t have any future ideas. Some faced stigma and depression but after they joined the program and they started doing music everything changed. When you talk to them now they can give you their 10 years future plan and this shows that they have a sense for the future. 

What would a “perfect program” look like for Rwanda?

 A perfect program would be close to the one we have now; equality for women and men, regardless of their religion or region all people treated equally. A program where the core team contributes ideas for the sustainability of the program and tackle all problems all together as one big team.

Donate today and support our work in Rwanda. We work every year with 1000s of children & youth in vulnerable communities, including those affected by poverty, HIV, conflict and former street children.
 
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Topics: Interviews Rwanda