Using the power of dance to connect with marginalised young people
Rwanda is a small landlocked country in Central Africa. It has a population of eleven million in an area of 26,000sq km (half the size of Tasmania).
It is a country recovering from a civil war which culminated in the 1994 Genocide.
Despite being one of the world’s poorest countries it has made remarkable progress since 1994. At the end of the war it was totally devastated but has rebuilt itself such that it now ranks 151st out of 187 countries on the UN Human Development Index (compared to Australia ranked two). It has also made real progress in achieving key UN Millennium Development Goals.
Overwhelmingly its economic and social progress is due to the efforts of its people and leaders.
Rwanda has few social and recreational amenities for young people and in particular for girls. Yet young people have a great deal of time on their hands. Schools run on two shifts per day and youth unemployment is high. HIV and teenage pregnancies are challenges faced as is the use of illicit drugs.
Club Rafiki has Rwanda’s only Hip Hop dance school for youngsters. It also has a sexual health centre with HIV prevention and family planning education programs.
indigo foundation works with Club Rafiki to support an urban dance school (Hip Hop, Reggae, Funk, Rap) where young people from disadvantaged backgrounds can have fun, get vigorous exercise and generally engage in a constructive activity. The young people also learn valuable life skills such as working in teams, learn to commit to attend classes regularly and on time and build their self esteem and confidence through participating in public dance performances. And coming along to the dance classes puts them in touch with the Club’s other great programs.
Club Rafiki has linked the dance school with the health clinic such that dancers are provided with information about HIV prevention, family planning and positive health practices.
The Club is now training dancers to participate in outreach programs to spread messages about safe sex practices to their peers in the wider community.