In Rwanda today disability still often brings shame and stigma. It is common for families to be ostracised by the community or even abused. 57% of the population are living below the poverty line and medical care is limited, especially in remote rural areas. With thousands of children and young adults across Rwanda either living in institutional care or accessing day centres, there is an extraordinary need to equip care staff with the skills that will allow them to address their needs.

Since 2011, the Rwandan government has, in partnership with Hope and Homes for Children, been developing a national family based care system for orphaned and vulnerable children. They aim to close down all 33 existing orphanages.

Activities and Impact to date

In 2010, we delivered training in two residential centres for children and young adults with disabilities in the Rusizi district. We trained local staff to introduce therapeutic music programmes into both centres and we have supported them ever since as they have required moral support, professional guidance and additional training. These staff members are now confident in their work and have become trainers in order to share their skills with others locally through an locally-led training project piloted in 2015.

In 2014, we took a second introductory training project to local care staff, teachers and social workers working at the Noel de Nyundo Orphanage and the Ubumwe Community Centre in Gisenyi, near Rwanda’s border with the Congo, with further training and support offered in 2015. There is now a house for therapy and rehabilitation, with a room dedicated to music therapy and used by our Local Partners.

In 2015, we facilitated a National Conference for a further 57 staff from 32 centres for disability across Rwanda. The conference gave them a theoretical and practical introduction to how Music as Therapy could be used in their centres. This was an oppoortunity to canvass interest in locally-led training, which was offered by our Local Partners from 2010. 6 centres were able to access the training later in the year and based on an evaluation of its impact a year later, we continued to invest in our Local Trainers, in partnership with Rwanda Aid.

Following a request received in 2015, in 2017 we delivered a new Introductory Training Project to a setting run by Hope and Homes for Children. The project was delivered in Kigali, by Cerrita Smith (music therapist) and Samantha Zeiher. It enabled 10 local staff to develop skills to run their own music programmes and 196 children/adults to participate in music sessions at the time. In 2018, they went back for a Follow Up visit to encourage and further support the local staff after their first year of running music sessions independently for the 125 children who access the community hub. While in Rwanda, Cerrita and Samantha also explored the possibility of further projects in response to requests from other settings run by Hope and Homes for Children.

“I wish I learned these skills during my teaching degree in teaching! The music as therapy had a positive impact on how we view behaviours and the children’s’ focus. Everything about this [the music] is beautiful! I have new skills that I can teach others.” (Teacher, Kigarama Community Centre, 2017)

Current Activities

Following their initial interest in additional training projects, Hope and Homes for Children have since decided to provide training internally to neighbouring settings. We are looking forward to hearing how it goes and providing guidance, ideas, resources and moral support when necessary.

We continue to invest in our Local Trainers, in partnership with Rwanda Aid to implement more locally-led training opportunities. The story of one of our Local Trainers, Audace, was featured in our Radio 4 appeal that aired in October last year.

This year's planned projects within Rwanda have been interrupted due to the current global pandemic. You can browse in our News section for more recent information about our activities. Or, if you have a specific question related to our work in Rwanda, please contact us.

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