"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."
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.
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 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.
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.