What is life like after one of the most historic genocides in world history?
LEAF International Intore Cultural Troupe members share their stories of survival & how culture created opportunities for their futures.
Emmanuel Uwitonze (Pictured in yellow):
“I’m 28 years old and I know I have changed so much from where I was to where I am now.
Growing up on the streets with no parents is a hard reality. My mom died when I was 4 and my dad when I was 7. Realizing I had no parents was the hardest time in my life, because that meant I had to live on the streets and I knew there was no one to give me food. I would go to hotels & restaurants to get the leftover food that people didn’t finish eating.
After all of that, it was difficult to think about not having a bed. I use to call my blanket ‘The VIP,’ because I felt safe
under it and I was never cold.
I have three siblings – the oldest is in the military but I don’t have any proof of it, one brother I haven’t heard from since 1999, and the youngest lives in the Gisozi providence of Rwanda.
Today, my life is good. There was a time when I was alone, but now I’m with a Troupe! We share ideas and depend on each other. I want people to know in the beginning my life was so bad, but now things have changed. I’m in a much better place.”
Oliver Murigande (pictured in orange):
“I’m 30 years old and I have a 6 year old daughter. My father died when I was 5 months, so I don’t know anything about him. My mother passed when I was 6 years old, so I never had the chance to go to school. I lived on the streets, surviving; until I met someone who loved me when I was 18 years old. At that time, I went to vocational school because I was too old for the primary schools.
At vocational school, I earned my certificate in baking. I’m really good at service jobs, baking, housekeeping, and miscellaneous repairs. I’ve worked at a hotel before, but when you come from the street, it’s really hard to get a job.
I hate the term street boy because I was a street boy. The word is painful. I want to change that word; it’s hard to realize I come from the streets. I know I can change my life. My future will be a challenge but I envision myself a great man. If I am teaching this beautiful culture to youth I am becoming a great man”
More about this post:
This month, LEAF International Rwanda aligns with the Social Participation Dimensions – one of five UNESCO cultural indicators that LEAF International focuses on. At LEAF International, we believe in the power of music, art and culture to empower individuals and transform lives. LEAF recognizes that these benefits are both tangible and intangible, and that at times, quantifying and qualifying the impact of arts education can be elusive. LEAF International utilizes the Culture for Development Indicators as a guiding framework for the development, the evaluation and the monitoring of programs.
With a focus on social participation, teaching artists & culture keepers instruct students on the traditions of their own culture. Through recognizing the importance of their own culture, students come to understand the beauty of all the varying cultures in our world – becoming global citizens.