Founded in 2006 • Located in Kigali, Rwanda
Originally 25 Street Orphans
Now years later most of this group has been transformed 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.
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.
"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
The Intore Culture & Music Center will provide housing, traditional drumming and performance classes to Rwandan orphans and the community. As a result of the 1994 Genocide and the AIDS epidemic, 70% of the Rwandan population is under 30—a large portion of which is made up of orphans without housing or education. In just three years The LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe has risen from the streets to world class performers. They are the inspiration behind this project, and as a group they told us, "Our dream is to teach other youth and street orphans and give them the same opportunities we have been given."
PartnersA powerful collaboration between LEAF International, the Playing For Change Foundation and Ivuka Arts Kigali has made the longtime dream of establishing a culture and music center for Rwandan street orphans a reality.
Ivuka currently practices our mission to connect youth (with a focus on street children) to creative arts. Their studio is a welcoming environment for children to learn, create, explore and grow. Their values, passion and creative energy not only impressed the LEAF International Rwanda team but also the leaders of the boys’ troupe.
Leonard Mutwarasibo - LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe Vice President
Leonard has been the LEAF drum and dance mentor since 2006. He is a well-respected teacher of traditional music and works in local Rwandan schools and at the university. He has traveled all over the world as a performer and teacher with the Rwanda National Ballet.
Patrick – elected Leader of Technical Performance
John Bosco – elected Store Keeper. Maintains the storage and shape of the drums.
Meet the Intore Troupe
David Kwizera - LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe Leader • Odilon Uwambajimana • Emmanuel Niyoyita • Jean Bosco Ngabitsinze • Emmanuel Nshimiyimana • Emmanuel Habineza • Olivier Murigande • Eugene Havugimana • Jackson Uwimana • Augustin Havugiyaremye • Maric Karangwa • Jean Paul Ndayisaba • Gaspard Uwiringiyimana • Fabian Tembasi • Emmanuel Uwitonze • Jean Bosco Gasagure • Patrick Ngirinshuti
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 as 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 Jennifer Pickering with LEAF International who have helped me get schooling and accommodations.
My name is Olivier Murigande and I am 20 years old. My mother’s name was Beatrice Niragire and my Father’s name was Celestin Havugabandi. 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 Patrice Usengimana. My father's name was Cyprien Bakomez, my mother's name was Immaculée Mukaburanga. During the 1994 war in Rwanda, my parents and I fled to the Congo. When we arrived in Goma, I was taken from my parents. For a short time a kind person took care of me, unfortunately he passed away. I had no one to turn to so I ended up living on the streets.
My name is Patrick Mbonyinshuti. I was born in 1992 in the province of Kigali City. My father's name was Dominique Gasasira. My mother's name was Pascasie Mukandahiro. Both my parents died. After the death of my parents, my family did not do anything to help me, thus, I stopped my studies and ended up living on the street. At that time I was in 9th grade (accounting section).
My name is Emmanuel Nshimiyimana. I was born in 1988 in the province of Kigali City. My father's name is Emmanuel Safari. My mother's name was Venantia Nyiraneza. 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.
My name is Daniel Ngarukiye. I was born in January 1, 1987. My father's name was Antoine Ndatsikira, my mother's name was Theodosie Uzamukunda. When I was 15 years old, my father died in a car accident. I stayed with my mom, who was sick. My extended family perished in the 1994 war, so I had no other choice, but to live on the street. I am grateful to LEAF International and Jennifer.
The Troupe's Vision and Dreams
We asked the boys to tell us what they envisioned for their future – personally and for the future of LEAF Intore. This is what they had to say…
David – "Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak our thoughts and wishes. We wanted to show you how far we have come, but also, where we want to go. 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."
Ali – "For a long time, nobody came to ask us our opinions. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our dreams. When the center is functioning, we would like to take in children from the streets. We would like to help orphans of the genocide, but also anyone else who wants to come. We wish for our children to never live on the streets. We were on the streets because of poverty or death of parents. We dream to become real men. Good men. We want to preserve our culture and we will not push away any opportunities or skills that come to us. Maybe one day, we can be like people who live in houses. When the center is built, we will welcome everyone, but mainly the underprivileged under 20 years old – they are the Rwandans of tomorrow."