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Sharing Musical Stories Across the Oceans

3 weeks ago JB Music Therapy received the call….the MusiKiva Project is a go – get immunized, pack your bags, you are going to Rwanda. Please welcome guest blogger Shannon Robinson, music therapist with  JBMT for over 10 years, to explain how this has all come about and why it is such a special project.

Four years ago I found myself hiking through a Rwandan rainforest attempting to catch a glimpse of one of the many chimpanzees said to be living in the area. This was the second last day I would spend in Rwanda before I carried on to Tanzania and the rest of that day developed into something I certainly couldn’t have designed. Little did I know that one day in Rwanda would bring us to this day, here in 2011! It was on that day 4 years ago that I met, the co-founders of a grass roots NGO, providing community development in Kenya and looking to do the same in Banda village (a village which sits at the bottom of that rainforest in Rwanda).

I was invited to visit this village and spent the day meeting the people who live there. Along with community development, Kageno created a visual arts exchange program between children in the Kageno communities and children in New York. It’s through this vision that, MusiKiva Canada and the potential for a music exchange program to provide children the opportunity to discover their dreams and share their stories were realized. During my travels I was struck by how easy it was to connect with the people, especially the children, from a completely different culture, who were experiencing different circumstances and having access to different, if any, essential resources.  Yet two of the significant and common denominators were (and are) music and a desire to share one’s story.

All around the world, music is found, and all around the world music serves as a way to express our perspective, our reactions, our hopes, and our dreams.  It moves to bring about community and to strengthen our connections with others.  Just think about your last concert experience and the fun that was had singing along with 10,000 other people to a favourite song!  Think about how quickly the entire audience – strangers when first arriving to the event – was united by one single song.  Whether you knew all the words or just some, the melody and the rhythm were still a catalyst for that experience and for you to be a part of that story.

MusiKiva believes that music is a catalyst for empowering self-expression and enriching human connection and cultural harmony, and therefore, aims to foster individual development and cultural connections through musical exploration, creation, and exchange.  The pilot program will launch this June and July in Calgary and Rwanda, connecting at-risk children through music and giving them a chance to not only discover who they are but also share their story!