Catalyst Rwanda was set up by Nicola Triscott and Kate Scanlan in 2011 to organise sustainable programmes of arts activities for vulnerable young people – including orphans of the genocide and AIDS, and former street children – and to organise artistic development programmes with young emerging Rwandan artists. Our aim is to contribute to the ongoing societal rebuilding of Rwanda and its cultural identity. http://www.cultureandconflict.org.uk/projects/catalyst-rwanda/
In our pilot project, we are working with Les Enfants De Dieu centre for street children, teaching hip hop dance to the boys. Les Enfants de Dieu is a remarkable centre, run by the visionary Rafiki Callixte. Its mission is to effect a transformation in the lives of Rwandan street children by alleviating their hardships and providing them with opportunities to mature into valued and respected individuals that can be reintegrated into and contribute to society. The centre houses around 130 boys between the ages of 6 and 18 in Ndera, a suburb of Kigali. If children are willing to leave the streets, the centre first provides them with food, shelter and basic health care. Secondly, they begin a rehabilitation process that focuses on mind, body and spirit. The children have access to health care, education, sport, vocational training, and counseling.
Les Enfants de Dieu gives much responsibility to the children themselves to manage the project. They organise elections each year to nominate leaders among themselves. The “ministers” – based on the Rwandan government structure – are aged about 14 or 15 and are voted in for a year. The ministers oversee the running of the centre, and make all decisions on expenditure. Rafiki explained – not completely joking – that they could even sack him! What we observed was a system that is educating future leaders.