Founded in 2006 • Located in Kigali, Rwanda
23 vulnerable youth served, now maturing into role models
• 100% of the Troupe reports that learning music through their LI program is increasing their self-esteem!
"When you are living on the street, there is no hope, there is no life, there is no future. The music has changed us. We now feel proud and have hope. Through music and performance, we are example students to the rest of our community and our country." -LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe
"Most of us grew up on the streets, and it was not our choice. We are sad for the others that are still on the streets. We dream to have work, and when we can sustain ourselves, we wish to take in other kids from the streets. We want to reach other kids – not only from the streets, but youth in general. We want to empower other kids the way that we were empowered. We will work hard to help the youth of Rwanda." -David Kwizera, LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe Leader
In Kinyarwanda, the word “Intore” refers to a person who is desperate and hopeless, then GIVEN HOPE by a person or event. This newfound hope gives the person strength to learn new skills, see life through new eyes, and become a better person and a leader. An Intore is a true hero.
As a result of the 1994 genocide and the AIDS epidemic, 70% of the Rwandan population is under 30. Many of those young people are orphans who lack housing and education. In 2006, LEAF International began working with 25 children who lived on the street in Rwanda, reaching out to them with traditonal drumming classes. Now years later, most of this group have grown into young men and international quality performing artists who speak English, live in a home, and are positive members of their community. It has been a long powerful extraordinary journey.
Today, members of this original group make up the LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe. These young men receive weekly traditional drumming classes, and perform for the community. These classes and performances help to preserve Rwanda's musical traditions.
Through the project, students gain:
- Weekly traditional drumming classes
- Training in valuable skill development that could lead to future work in the field
- Self-esteem and pride at keeping their traditions alive
- Discipline skills
- Community building through cultural arts
- An outlet to HEAL from the genocide and tradgedies that they have lived through
"Our dream is to teach other youth and street orphans and give them the same opportunities we have been given." -LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe
Meet some of the Students
David Kwizera- David is the elected leader of the LEAF Intore Troupe. For over 8 years, David was the leader of his "band of brothers" living as streets orphans in an uncovered parking lot in Kigali, where each day was a struggle for food and survival. He has a natural confidence, a big heart and a warm smile. Now, David is working hard to empower other youth in his community through music and cultural activities.
David's powerful story in his own words: "My name is David Kwizera. I was born in 1989, in Gisenyi. I grew up without my parents. I was living with a older woman who I considered was my grandmother. She found me abandoned in a field. When I was 10, thieves invaded our house, took our belongings and killed my Grandmother. Left with no family, I ended up living on the streets in Gisenyi, but life on the street was tough. I ended up in Kigali where the situation was not much better. I was lucky to meet with LEAF International who have helped me get music and dance training and accommodations."
"My name is Olivier Murigande and I am 20 years old. Both of my parents were killed during the 1994 genocide. My sister and I fled to Uganda. When we got there my sister became a prostitute. Five months after the end of the war, I returned to Rwanda to find our home was a wreck. I went to live with my aunt, but after a while she died of AIDS. Having no one else to rely on, I went to live on the street. I thank LEAF International for rescuing me from the street."
"My name is Emmanuel Nshimiyimana. I was born in 1988 in the province of Kigali City. I have one other sibling. Right after the death of my mother, I was separated from my father and my family did nothing to help me. Poverty and hunger are the reasons that I ended up living on the street. I am thankful for LEAF International, my pseudo-family that rescued me from the street."
"I have hope for my future because of the music education I have gotten through LEAF International."
CLICK HERE for more of the boys' personal and meaningful stories.
New photo of the Troupe with past LI Coordinator, Kelly! (April 2013)
Meet the Teaching Artist and Other Leaders
Abraham Konga is a mentor to the guys, and LEAF International Coordinator for the Rwanda Program. Abraham and his wife, Alice, show much care for their community and out of their 4 children, 2 are adopted. Abraham is also a necklace designer and teaches traditional African jewelry-making at his store in Kigali. He says, "being a small time artist has some challenges, however, I am still growing."
Abdullah is their Teaching Artist, teaching and mentoring drumming and dance!
Patrick is the elected Leader of Technical Performance. He helps lead the LEAF Intore Troupe in dance and performance technique. He sets an example of how to perform on stage with a big smile and explaining arm placement and dance routines.
Watch the LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe Perform