MUSICIANS WITHOUT BORDERS:Introducing the Kivu Youth Project

by Mark Young

President, Rational Games, Inc.

Especially in the light of the current crisis on the Ukrainian border, Rational Games is pleased to present its most recent grantee:  Musicians Without Border (MWB) and specifically their Kivu Youth Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

MWB offers a powerful antidote to border conflicts:  music.  Following the lead of Doctors Without Borders and similar organizations, this NGO was founded in 1999 to unlock the power of music in international conflict situations.  As they put it, war divides, music connects.  Building on the inspiration of peace activist and philosopher Thich Nath Hanh, the passionate entrepreneurial founder, Laura Hassler, singlehandedly brought something wonderful into this world.  This is a compelling idea well executed.

MWB ‘s work began in the former Yugoslavia, where it continues to this day. It then spread from Kosovo to Rwanda, Palestine, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, and refugee communities in Europe.  Always working with local partners, and always with tailor-made approaches, this organization has succeeded in unlocking the power of music to bring people in conflict regions together.

After a tough lockdown in central Africa, MWB is now pleased to kick off an ambitious new project in Congo, aimed particularly at the cycle of perpetuated violence in the Northern Kivu region. MWB has been working in Rwanda since 2012, largely focused on HIV patients, but this plants the musical flag farther afield.

A newly established team of 30-40 young Community Music Leaders (not professional musicians) connects communities in and around Goma, thus promoting a culture of peace.

Music can have ripple effects that are just as powerful as those of conflict. Through weekly music workshops, the program aims to reach 3000 children by 2024, and at the same time place the course graduates in local musical academies to continue the work professionally.

MWB’s focus on local partnerships and rigorous impact measurement tools such as story collections and video questioning ((a rarity in projects like this) make us confident of their success, and Rational Games is pleased to welcome them to the grantee family with our small financial contribution.

But the kids can say it better than I ever could. Listen to them here.

Comments welcome – or join the chorus of support.