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Rwanda Youth Music provided me with a lifeline during my darkest days and empowered me to reclaim my voice and find solace through music.

This is a story from one of the program’s participants, reminding us how important it is for music to connect (reader discretion advised: contains elements of domestic harm):

“When I first joined Rwanda Youth Music, I just wanted a happy experience and to be with other children who were affected by or living with HIV. We played together in music workshops and then later I received training to be one of the leaders. I got the chance to play on stages with my band, performing songs we created together.

As I got older, my personal life became a problem, as I found myself trapped in an abusive marriage. My husband, threatened by my involvement in the music school, demanded that I stop attending. I felt utterly isolated, and without any friends to turn to for support. 

In one of my darkest moments, I reached out to an old friend from the music program and the coordinator. Both of them encouraged me to come back to the music program immediately. When I did come back, their reaction was shock and concern. I had become so thin. I’d lost a load of weight, I think due to the stress and mistreatment. 

When my husband found out I’d gone back to the music program, his anger got even worse, and he insisted that I never set foot in the music school again. 

My friends from Rwanda Youth Music became my lifeline. They told me to get assistance from the local police and seek a divorce. One of my friends in the music school offered me and my child a place to stay, providing us with a safe haven. 

My family disowned me for getting a divorce, but over time, eventually, some family members took me in, and we began healing together. 

I attend the music program every week, cherishing the opportunity to pursue my passion and rebuild my life. This is why Rwanda Youth Music holds such immense importance to me. It provided me with a lifeline during my darkest days and empowered me to reclaim my voice and find solace through music.”

From September 21, International Day of Peace, we are raising money to support our work in places like Rwanda. Help us make it possible for young people in divided societies to take the stage together. Every donation helps.

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