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This blog was written by Chris Nicholson, Regional Program Manager for our work in East Africa.

It shouldn’t be life changing to have someone sing your name to you. It is heartbreaking that being valued in that simplest of ways can be the spark of connection that someone needs.

It shouldn’t be life changing that someone smiles at you when you are brave enough to play a rhythm that comes into your mind, and that the other drummers in your group shift their beat to match yours.

It shouldn’t be life-changing that your friend from a music group comes and sits with you while you’re waiting for your appointment to have your blood checked again.

Since 2012 Musicians Without Borders has partnered with WE-ACTx for Hope, a Rwandan NGO providing medical and psychosocial support to people living with HIV. We have trained young community leaders to use music as a crucial aspect of the healthcare of children and youth. Their work is extraordinary and life for young patients. 

It shouldn’t be life-changing, but it is. 

This World AIDS Day we are proud to share with you three animated music videos created by the team at Rwanda Youth Music in collaboration with the Mercury Phoenix Trust and Shado Mag. A year ago the Rwanda Youth Music team launched the “Animating Voices, Animating Youth” project. Young Community Music Leaders guided young people living with HIV to tell their stories through song-writing; helping them express their experiences, fears, and sentiments. Animators from the UK and USA created compelling videos that protect the identities of the young musicians from the risks involved with publicly revealing their HIV status. 

Stigma and prejudice should not define your life and your choices because you are HIV+.

Stigma and prejudice should not drive people to the decision not to take life-saving medicine.

Modern treatments mean that living with HIV should not affect quality of life or lifespan. HIV can be contained at very low levels that are barely detectable. The primary issue that remains for people living with HIV, is stigma. The prejudice felt against people living with HIV needs to stop. These songs capture moving stories of life with HIV in 2022 – the real fears and experiences that young people face.

We work with children and youth who are struggling today, right now. They are looking for where to find support, where to be safe, where to be valued. Rwanda Youth Music provides that.

Love and peace,


Please help us to continue this work, by giving generously to our 2022 year-end campaign.

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