A final week update from our volunteers in Rwanda

Posted in Blog and Projects on 5th September 2017

It’s our last week in Kigali and we can’t believe it! We are very sad to be leaving Rwanda because we’ve truly felt like it has become our home over the last 6 weeks. There are so many things to be missed but here are a few that we can’t quite shake from our system:

  • The general friendliness: wherever we have been we have always been greeted with open arms and the greatest laugh! 
  • Transport: The traffic may be crazy, and the highway code not really respected, but travelling in Rwanda is so much fun! Taxi drivers are always on good form, motto rides at sunset are a sight for sore eyes and getting the bus always guarantees absolutely incredible views. 
  • Communication: Since English only very recently replaced French as the second most spoken language in Rwanda, the streets of Kigali are a melting pot of ‘Frenglish-Kinyarwanda’ and having a chat with someone using 3 languages is just so fun!

Our last week’s mission has been to make sure each teacher is confident in leading the music activities we have shared with them on their own. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent observing classes and Sam was quite happy about this as she completely lost her voice a few days before… (Yes, it’s possible to catch a cold in Africa!) It was nice to take a back seat and to think about how far we’d come since the first week spent observing classes. On Thursday, it was our last day with the children and it couldn’t have been any nicer! The centre organised a performance for the parents and Hopes for Homes and everyone gathered to watch teachers demonstrate their new skills. Each class was present and this was the first time we saw all the children reunited, we couldn’t quite believe how many of them they were!

We were very moved as all staff performed brilliantly; they also took the time to explain the project to everyone and even went into detail about the benefits of each activity and how grateful they were about their new skills. We then proceeded to give each teacher their certificates and it was nice to do this with a cheering audience in the background. For our last night, we were invited to dinner by the staff of Hope and Homes and we can’t thank Antoinette, Vidivi, Olivier and Innocent enough for their continued hospitality and generosity. They even gifted us with a beautiful Rwandese trophy and some traditional skirts that we will be wearing proudly back in London!

On Friday morning, we went back to the centre to say our last goodbyes and discuss with the staff their plans on how to continue using music after we leave. It was quite an emotional affair! We brought some Fanta (The Rwandese drink of choice) and some snacks to share. Teachers were very appreciative of the project and shared their favourite musical activities with the group. We discussed planing and encouraged the staff to continue meeting at least once a month to see how things are going and share any new songs and activities they learn so everyone can benefit from new skills. We were very happy to hear the teachers are planing to continue small group music therapy activities at least twice a week and that John will also continue leading the drumming group with the youth. In just six weeks, it feels as though we have really made a difference. During our time in Rwanda, we have truly learned the meaning of the word ‘community’ and understood how important the centre is to all the children and youth who treat it as their home. We are very excited to see how the teachers continue to use music as therapy and we look forward to hearing about their progress!

 

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