This week there was the debriefing for our volunteers, Samantha Zeiher and Cerrita Smith, who have recently returned from delivering a Follow-Up Visit to support our Local Partners at the Hope and Homes Community Hub in Kigarama, Rwanda. Follow-up Visits are an important part of our sustainability strategy – providing support to people who receive introductory training from us to help them recognise their successes and address any difficulties they have encountered so that their own music programmes stand the best chance of continuing into the future. You can read about Sam and Cerrita’s reflections at the end of their project below. It was a great opportunity to hear what might be wanted next, in terms of continuing to support and develop music programmes with Hope and Homes, and for us to make sure any future projects we delivered are informed by Sam and Cerrita’s experiences.

“It’s been a week since we left Kigali and we already miss Rwanda so much!

Although our follow up visit was brief, (two weeks compared to the six weeks we spent there last year for the introductory project) it really feels as though this visit had a positive impact on supporting the staff in celebrating their successes.

Alongside offering some guidance and advice on how to continue developing musical activities to increase focus, attention and turn taking, we were asked by the teachers if we could provide some additional educational songs to help the children with learning.

With MasT’s sustainability value at heart, it felt more fitting to instead skill-share with the teachers the tools necessary to create their own educational songs. Together, we engaged in a fabulous afternoon of songwriting and composed a song about the weather using words, movements and music. It was fantastic to see each teacher contribute in a unique way and observe the group become more confident in using their skills to take ownership of the music.

We received some heart warming feedback that they believed Music as Therapy had given them a new perspective on working with large classes and encouraged children suffering from low self esteem and communication issues to engage with others.

When we discussed having visited another community centre with the prospect for a new project, they were very enthusiastic about the idea of sharing their skills with other teachers to help further children.

On our last night, we enjoyed sharing a traditional ‘big fish’ dinner with the Hopes for Homes team who were as friendly and supportive as ever.

Cerrita and I were very sad to see this project come to an end but we feel confident music will continue at the Kigarama Community Centre and we can’t help but feel a little proud!

Murabeho Mwirirwe,

Cerrita and Samantha”