Another Friday Fun Foto: “You got to put your butt into it” – learning to dance Congolese style at Youth Peace Camp in Rwanda.
Sometimes life just gets too serious and you have to have some fun. One of the most anticipated parts of the day at peace camp are the talent nights where youth create and perform their favourite dances, songs, skits, and poems. At last year’s camp, dances from the Congo were the most popular of all…well that, and watching some of the leaders take a shot at showing some moves. See more photos from peace camp and other activites
Youth are finding that song and dance are popular ways to create some common ground and to spread their message of peace. Club Unity in Mubago, for instance, have incorporated learning traditional dance in their community peace-building activities. They’re finding it’s also a great way to build more understanding between generations and learn more about their shared culture. See video clip of some of the kids performing
This November, we expect even more fun and cultural learning as we invite youth representatives from other countries in the Great Lakes region to attend Peace Camp 2012. Till then, however, our hearts and prayers go out to youth and their leaders from the DR Congo who attended camp last year and are currently having to cope with continued violence and unrest in their region. May youth continue to lead the way in peace-building and become excellent role models in all sectors of society for a better future.
It’s Friday Fun Foto….So You Think You Can Dance, Rwanda? Yego! (Yes!)
Just some of the song, dance and slam (poetry) that we had at our youth peace camp, held this past November in Nyange. Our photographer is Anthony, one of the gafotozi.
See more photos by the gafotozi at peace camp.
Gotta see this…clips of some of the song, dance and slam (poetry), live and unedited, from nyange youth peace camp.
Learn more about our first peace camp and how you can help sponsor another one.
An inspiring Mother’s Day story from the streets of Kigali and Canada
Every Saturday, a group of street kids meet at a church near the open market where they live. They call themselves Amizero (“hope” in kinyarwanda). They lift their spirits and their hearts to God, earnestly praying for change. Many like Alexi (pictured) have lived most of their life alone on the street. When he was 7 years old, he travelled a long distance on his own, to get to the capital city of Kigail. He became caught up in the vicious cycle of stealing to earn a living and using drugs and alcohol to dull the pain and heartache.
“What gives you hope today?” we asked Alexi, during our visit to his house, a makeshift lean-to he built himself in an alleyway of the market.
“I have peace when I come here [to Amizero]; no one will beat me or put me in jail,” he answers with a smile. He counsels other kids living on the streets: ”You have to have some hope that God will provide.” And he has brought several of his friends, like Pelagie, to Amizero.
Pelagie’s early years are hazy. She doesn’t remember her parents. When she was 11 years old, she fled to Kigali after her mother (a woman who had taken her in) chased her away. “I walked to town…It took a whole week…I didn’t know anyone.”
Alone on the streets, she started to sell her body, often to other street kids, to earn money. “I made between $2 to $10 a day, depending on the market,” she quietly shares. Today she does small, odd jobs like sweeping and cleaning to earn money, but it pays even less.
“Do you have any hope today?” we asked her.
“Yes, I have hope…that God will keep me and provide.”
Alexi too is attempting to earn money in a new way. He gathers coal and does any other small jobs that he can find. “I don’t steal anymore, but make a lot less…about $1-2 a day.” He hopes to go to school one day, to take training in plumbing or carpentry.
Meet Mama Amizero, Epa (Epaphrodite) Nzungize, a young woman who decided to do something about the plight of street youth like Alexi and Pelagie. Though she herself struggles with poverty, including going without meals to put herself through school, she has a burden to help neglected and vulnerable kids living on the streets. ”I was one of the first to join her group,” says Alexi. “Sometimes I go to her place for food. She is like my mom now.”
During their Saturday meetings, Amizero are learning traditional dance, poetry and drama. Pelagie loves to dance. She hopes to go to school and learn sewing. All of the youth at Amizero look forward to using their new skills to earn a living, with more dignity.
We believe that all youth in Rwanda have an important role and contribution to make to society and building peace.
Amizero will be just one of many talented youth groups to partipate in the peace camp. In addition to raising funds for the camp, we have offered to help raise a small loan of $1,200 to help start their dance troupe. Money earned from their performances will go into a group savings account to help meet their most immediate needs like food and shelter. Once the loan is repaid, that money in turn will support another one of our youth peace media initiatives in Rwanda, the AEBR Youth Peace Studio.
Contact us for more info about these projects at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And from the streets of Canada….thanks, mom!
Amizero also have mamas in Canada, like Kathy Cheveldayoff (pictured), who care about them. Together with her husband Laurence, she is helping to raise funds for a peace of life, which includes projects like Amizero and the peace camp.
This past week, a peace of life held our first long distance fundraiser, compliments of skype. We thank “mama and papa” Chevy for all your effort and encouragement. We also thank the Women’s Association of First Baptist, Victoria for your time, interest and generous donations. You truly are mamas for peace!
Here’s an excerpt from their note of thanks:
“What a delightful afternoon…That was so cool
and worked so well. The ladies of the mission group were so touched by your story about the needs in Rwanda and the photos captured the heart…We will all be praying for you daily and for the families who have been so terribly traumatized in Rwanda. We will be in prayer that God will go before the Peace Camp and that His peace and strength will reign in the lives of these young people…”
Thank you so very much. With love, Nora
On behalf of the Women’s Association of First Baptist Victoria
In closing: A Mother’s Day prayer
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. ” (Hebrews 10:23-24; NLT version)
A look ahead…
We’re hoping to hold a youth peace camp over school break, the end of November.
It will be near a significant site - a school at Nyange where students refused to separate. 13 were killed. More details to be posted shortly.
Email us at email@example.com if you’re interested in helping with fundraising or becoming one of our partners in peace. We’re looking for schools, camps and church groups interested in having a unique partnership with a school in Rwanda.
Pictured: Some of the members of Amizero (Hope), a street kids ministry in Kigali started by one young woman, Epaprodite Nzunpize. They are learning traditional dance, drama and poetry and hope to be able to earn money with their new skills. Look for them to be one of the groups to perform at the camp!
Our first a peace of life workshop in Rwanda was all about fun. Many songs and dances by children and youth living in child-headed households officially opened this special event held the last week of November in a remote village in the Kibungo region.
Expecting around 160 children and youth, over 270 showed up, some walking long distances to participate in this special event. Group games helped create lots of laughter and team spirit. Afterwards, working in teams, youth created and presented poignant skits and dramas on what causes conflict in their community. Coming soon to this blog: video clips featuring their presentations.
The day concluded with 5 youth selected to participate in an intensive photography workshop for the rest of the week. More about this event in our next posting – but what resulted after five days was simply astounding, so stay tuned for photos and video clips from this exciting time.