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, we were able to deliver a new Introductory Training Project to a new setting in Rwanda in 2017, run by Hope and Homes for Children . The project was delivered in Kigali, by Cerrita Smith (music therapist) and Samanth 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. Longer term, this means the wider community that uses the centre - as many as 767 children and families - could now be accessing music sessions in the centre. You can read a report on this project here.

Current Activities

We will be returning to our Local Partners in Kigali this year to offer all important support after their first year of running music sessions independently. We are looking forward to hearing how it has been going and providing guidance, ideas, resources and moral support to help the staff continue to develop their work with music.

Our Local Trainers are also developing their skills and have already ran one short training this year, in which 11 practitioners had the opportunity to learn about how music can be used to benefit vulnerable children and young people. We very much hope there will be more locally-led training opportunities this year and we will continue to work with Rwanda Aid to support these. Please send us an email if you are interested to know more about local training in Rwanda.

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