Rwanda Youth Music
In the 1990s Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo suffered brutal violence and conflicts. Although Rwanda has maintained peace, ongoing effects, fighting and instability continue in the region today. Importantly, fuelling this violence are histories of colonial oppression, based on war, profit, division and injustice.
Amidst many tragedies, one consequence of conflict in the Great Lakes region of Africa was the rapid spread of HIV. During the 100-day genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, an estimated 150,000 people contracted HIV.
Rwanda Youth Music began in 2012 in response to the legacies of genocide in Rwanda, and the ongoing cycles of violence in the region.
Support for young people living with HIV
Rwanda Youth Music began in 2012 in partnership with WE-ACTx for Hope, to support the needs of children and young people living with HIV. Today, a team of community music leaders, trained by Musicians Without Borders, run a wide range of activities, including:
- Therapeutic music groups in patients’ communities,
- Drop-in sessions during WE-ACTx for Hope’s children’s clinic hours,
- Drum circles in support group sessions,
- Instrument lessons, and
- Music camps.
Every year, the Rwanda Youth Music team makes music with over 1000 children and youth in their communities, across Kigali, and throughout Rwanda. They run music workshops for vulnerable youth including in refugee camps, centers for former street children, communities facing profound poverty, and those living with HIV.
From 2021 the team runs free music lessons and workshops for children at the Community Music Center in Kigali. This new project will have immediate impact:
- Creating employment opportunities for young people,
- Building a flourishing cultural center in an underserved community,
- Providing free access for children to the social and personal benefits of music.
Regional hub of expertise
Rwanda Youth Music is recognised as a regional hub of expertise. We have collaborated with organizations in Uganda and Tanzania to run training courses and develop long-term programs. In 2019, we expanded the training course to Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. The Rwanda Youth Music team trained a group of young community leaders engaged in peacebuilding and reconciliation work in the area’s war-affected communities.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Tanzania (past program)
Uganda (past program)
WE-ACTx for Hope