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home > Our work > Programs > Where We Work > Rwanda Youth Music
Rwanda Youth Music

"Music is a symbol of friendship in our country. It helps us to be released from depression in order to have a better future. I think we will learn how to show others who are HIV+ that they have a value for themselves and for their country."•• Community Music Leaders, Kigali, Rwanda

Rwanda Youth Music was developed at the invitation of local partner WE-ACTx for Hope to support the needs of children and young people living with HIV. The most appropriate and effective musical approaches are embedded in WE-ACTx for Hope’s clinical support structure, sustainably providing young patients with opportunities for positive creative expression and social empowerment through musical interaction.

Music Therapy

In 2013, Musicians Without Borders was invited to support the establishment of the country’s first professional Music Therapy position. Since then, in small groups and in 1-1 sessions, over 100 young people living with HIV have attended and benefitted from music therapy sessions with a UK qualified and registered music therapist. In evaluation, 100% of interviewed participants reported positive impact.

Innovative methods of practice have been developed to enable many more people to access the benefits of music therapy. Rwandan musicians have been trained to run therapeutic music groups; and a training course has been developed in Music & Health, accredited within the University of Rwanda’s forthcoming BA Music.

Community Music Leaders

Community Music Leaders are trained to use music as a tool for social change, community building, and healing. Since 2012, international and Rwandan trainers have facilitated the training of 80 Community Music Leaders in Rwanda, each receiving 116 hours of professional training.

Training focuses on musical skills; leadership skills; and introductions to principles of non-violence, non-judgment, inclusion and participation that inform Musicians Without Borders’ working ethos. Rwandan trainers provide on-going support, and ensure local culture is embedded in the training.


The Community Music Leaders in Rwanda wrote and recorded “Ubumuntu”, a song that speaks of their commitment to music as a resource for change and community. Ubumuntu is a compassionate way of living together. It asks all people to have empathy and to feel the human needs of others.

To Rwandans the word signifies sharing, giving, and supporting the needs of your neighbors.

Outreach & Advocacy

Over 30,000 young people across Rwanda have participated in musical outreach events.

Community Music Leaders have travelled to centres for former street children; refugee camps; and to communities affected by HIV. They lead children to dance, sing, write songs, and play instruments, using their skills in leadership and nonviolent communication to create safe and creative experiences.

The program helps advocate for the adoption of music approaches developed in Rwanda for WE-ACTx for Hope. This has led to employment opportunities for the young music leaders, and the inclusion in training courses of members of other organisations.

Lastest News
December 2, 2020
In Rwanda, music activities and support groups for young people living with HIV have been closed for ten months. We know that when it becomes possible to meet again, support will be more necessary than ever.
June 11, 2020
"[The trainers] kept telling me that I was important. That made me come a bit closer to other people. I was trained and I became a community music leader, then I started to help children that felt like me."
April 17, 2020
Our training program for Community Music Leaders in Rwanda has already moved online. Here’s a lesson given this week by Musicians Without Borders trainer Espoir Rukengeza.
April 16, 2020
In January 2020, we began a very exciting new collaboration across Musicians Without Borders programs, bringing the expertise of the Mitrovica Rock School to Rwanda Youth Music’s team of passionate Community Music Leaders.
Local Musicians
Yves Kana
Guitar & Vocal teacher, and MWB Assistant Trainer
Espoir Rukengeza
Guitar, Bass & Vocal teacher, and MWB Assistant Trainer
Bonani Djuma
Piano teacher, and MWB Assistant Trainer
April 23, 2018
At the weekend, a new training course in MwB Community Music Leadership...
August 28, 2017
This year marks the first MwB training course delivered entirely by our...
April 16, 2016
On Tuesday, April 5th, we concluded a year-long community music training...
April 2, 2016
We're training 30 Burundian refugees to become Community Music Leaders...
March 31, 2017
One of the great successes of the Rwanda Youth Music program is that young people who received Musicians without Borders training as Community Music Leaders, are now finding opportunities with other organizations as trainers and teachers of music.
March 23, 2017
Yves Kana works with Musicians without Borders since 2012 as a music teacher and assistant trainer. He reaches 1000s of vulnerable children with his work. We need your support to continue and train more Rwandan community musicians in 2017.
June 17, 2016
Over the past 12 months we have worked with a group of thirty young people...
December 9, 2015
Your donation can support Community Music Leaders to work with thousands...