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  • Project Gisenyi Week 2

    After some much needed time at the weekend to relax, reflect and walk along the beautiful lake kivu Steph and i were ready for our last two days at UCC. We were pleased that our visit briefly coincided with Sharon the project manager for the Point Foundation who we had been liaising with prior to the trip. Sharon is very supportive of the music programme at UCC and within the Community Based Living.

    On Monday we observed 3 music sessions and in the afternoon we had a meeting with Zachary, the director of UCC to discuss his thoughts on how the music programme is going as well as to let him know how impressed we were with the approach of some of his staff and their commitment to the children and young people they are working with. We also visited one of the CBL houses again to run a music group with the people that lived there. It was led by Alexi and we were impressed to see how well he responded to the individual needs of those within the group.


    On Tuesday we ran two staff workshops. In one we watched the training DVD (created to share good practice across Rwanda). We stopped at certain points throughout to discuss any thoughts or ideas and this ended up turning into doing some practical activities with the staff. In the second staff workshop we addressed some of the issues that staff had been experiencing during music sessions that week and Steph gave some more general advice about running music as therapy sessions.


    We took some of the staff from UCC out that evening for a drink to say thank you and goodbye before we travelled back to Kigali the next morning. We were pleased to meet back up with Nicky and Caroline who had been busy arranging the conference and logistics for the exchange programme down in Cyangugu.

    The conference which had been arranged for Friday 3rd July was well attended and brought together staff from 23 centres for people with disabilities that are part of the Tubakunde Network, staff from Hope and Homes for Children, The National Commission for Children, Musicians without Borders, VSO, the Point Foundation and Local Partners from Gisenyi and Cyangugu. Stephanie and I played live music whilst people were arriving (myself on guitar and Steph playing beautifully on the violin) and not too much later than expected the conference began. There were speeches, discussions, an example session for all to watch, some group activities that everyone could get involved in, time to watch the training DVD and of course a hearty lunch provided by the lovely staff at St Francois D’Assise.

    We left Kigali the next evening pleased that everything had gone smoothly. Thanks to everyone who supports this work in Rwanda, it really means a lot!

    Until next time…..

    Hannah and Stephanie x

  • Music as Therapy in Rwanda 2015 - Update

    We have spent most of this week in Kigali, preparing for the conference, which took place yesterday. This conference was jointly hosted by Music as Therapy International and Tubakunde, and launches the exchange programme. This programme facilitates the rolling out of music as therapy skill-sharing across Rwanda and realizes the original vision of Project Leader Helen Leith. It also further establishes the original two centres, Ngwino Nawe and Urugwiro centre, as centres of excellence in Rwanda.

    Over seventy people from all around Rwanda attended the conference. Senior members of Tubakunde spoke about their belief in the role of music as therapy in improving the quality of care for the children in their centres. Nicky and Caroline described the history of Music as Therapy in Rwanda. Therese and Consuelo, the directors of Ngwino Nawe and Urugwiro centre spoke about the growth of music as therapy at their centres, the real benefits they have seen with this approach, and enthusiastically encouraged the conference delegates to consider participating in the exchange programme. Audace and Alphonsine, staff from the two centres, gave testimonies about changes they had seen in individual children that they attributed to music as therapy, before leading an example music as therapy group. Despite some very challenging role playing from the group participants, Alphonsine showed all her sensitivity and skill as an excellent music leader!







    We were keen that there should be musical and practical elements to the day. Steph and Hannah welcomed everyone with live music. Later, the participants were divided into four groups and took part in parallel activity sessions before watching excerpts from the DVD. The day began and ended with song. After a shared lunch it was extremely encouraging to receive a huge number of expression of interest forms; nearly all the centres represented at the conference would like to participate. All in all the exchange programme has got off to a fantastic start and we look forward to hearing from our partners at Tubakunde for the next stage.

    We’re flying back to the UK this evening. It has been a packed two weeks, and once again we’re sorry to be leaving this beautiful country of sunshine, hills, banana trees, songs, dancing and good friends. Thank you for continued support,

    Murakose cyane!

    Nicky and Caroline 

  • Music as therapy in Rwanda 2015

    Greetings from Rwanda! We’ve just completed the first stage of our trip. We visited our Local Partners at Urugwiro Centre and Ngwino Nawe and observed some of their sessions, demonstrating their maturing music as therapy practice.

    We discussed with them the exciting new step for Project Rwanda and their involvement in training the next generation of music as therapy practitioners in Rwanda. These exchange visits will take place via Tubakunde, an umbrella organization for disabled children’s villages in Rwanda and we are very excited to be collaborating with them to deliver the conference next Friday. We’ll write more about this next week!

    Our visit to Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda was an opportunity to meet up with staff at the centres and Rwanda Aid, our hosts, who we have known since 2010 and are now old friends. We shared many songs, much laughter and a few goat brochettes. It was our fourth visit there and it gets harder to say goodbye each time. Many thanks to all our supporters.

    Caroline and Nicky 

  • Muraho from Gisenyi!

    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

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