Stephanie and I have been back in Rwanda for a week now. We arrived in Gisenyi on Monday afternoon and went straight to the Ubumwe Community Center (UCC) to see and say hello to everyone. It was lovely to see so many familiar faces and to be greeted so enthusiastically. We were also taken to see the new homes for the people with disabilities from Noel de Nyundo orphanage, which has now completely shut.
The houses are all located in walking distance to UCC and the 23 people that live in them attend the centre everyday. It was great to see how their lives had changed since we were last here. They now live in spacious houses with lovely gardens and each house has their own little family that is part of a broader community as well. We had brought some instruments with us from the UK and we also bought some drums whilst we were in Kigali. We planned to give each of the houses a small selection of instruments so they could run music sessions for fun and socialising in the afternoons and at the weekends. Each afternoon for the rest of the week we visited a different house once they had returned from being at UCC. We were pleased to see that some of the carers who had taken part in the introductory skill-sharing project last year were working in the houses and were able to take a lead on running the music sessions, with our encouragement. We were delighted to see how much they remembered and the positive responses of the those they were working with.
One care worker, Alexi, has shown particular enthusiasm for the music sessions and seems extremely keen to learn more about music as therapy and how he can use it with those he is working with. He has joined us every afternoon at each of the houses. Where there were carers with no previous training, he was able to lead the session and we hope with time he can pass on what he has learnt to other carers and they will be able to lead sessions in their homes without Alexi being there. We realise this may take some encouragement to begin with but we hope with time it can become part of their weekly routine.
In response to the concerns of the director of UCC we have identified someone who we hope can be the music programme coordinator. Joyuese received some training last year and we are using our time whilst we are here to build upon her skills so she can hopefully be the focal person for music as therapy at UCC.
The days have been spent working closely with Joyuese and Alexi as well as observing and helping to run sessions with other workers who took part in the initial training. Due to issues with there not being enough space the staff have been struggling to run individual and small group sessions. They have been asking us how they can run music sessions in bigger groups, so this is something we have being trying to help them think about. A house opposite the centre is hopefully being opened up as a centre specifically for therapy and we hope this will include a specific room for music as therapy sessions.
We have two days left to work at UCC and then we will travel to Kigali where we will be meeting back up with Nicky and Caroline and we will help them to host a conference for members of the Tubakunde Network (National Disability Network). We hope that Joyuese and Alexi from UCC will attend this conference as well as some staff members from Hope and Homes for Children and the National Commission for Children.
We look forward to updating you on how the next week goes!
Hannah and Stephanie