Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) – Promoting Peace in Post-Conflict Rwanda

Rwanda is a country still living with the impact of the 1994 genocide that saw upwards of 800,000 people killed over a 100-day period. An estimated ten per cent of children lost one or both parents during the genocide and more than 100,000 children now live alone or are the sole carers for their siblings as a result of their parents being killed or imprisoned.

Thanks to a project exploring how disciplines like dance, drama, and music can empower young people to be a driving force for peacebuilding, the arts are now having a significant impact on communities across Rwanda.

Led by Professor Ananda Breed from the University of Lincoln’s School of Creative Arts, Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) is using the arts as a platform for young people to share their experiences and communicate their ideas for conflict prevention within their own communities.

Working with partner organisations such as the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), Foundation Tolerance International, and a number of UK and international universities, MAP has created a ‘toolkit’ for educators to teach the Performing Arts as well as offering training sessions to enable them to deliver residential workshops for young people.

By using the arts as a way to draw on personal experiences, MAP is providing safe, progressive spaces for dialogue and shared problem-solving for peacebuilding, as well as developing skills in music, dance, and drama.

Professor Ananda Breed

Professor Breed added: “We are already seeing the positive effects of this approach in the increased academic performance of students, improved communications between students and their parents, enhanced public speaking skills, and a contribution to overall learning processes."

The Rwanda Education Board (REB) has also integrated the MAP methodology into the national Curriculum Framework in music, dance, and drama through training of trainers and MAP clubs.

Another important strand of the project has been the integration of mental health awareness and support in all MAP activities, to help participants deal with their own emotions and experiences and offering an outlet to share their stories.

As well as the more traditional arts, participants are also being given the opportunity to learn other skills such as filmmaking. As part of a recent MAP workshop in the Eastern Province, a ‘Filmmaking for Peace Workshop’ led by renowned filmmaker Eric Kabera explored how objects and environments tell stories. The group was able to learn basic filmmaking skills from lighting and camera techniques to editing, and four of the shorts created were later showcased as part of the Hollywood event at the international Rwanda Film Festival.

These stories take us through the twists and turns of the human experience; finding new ways to share common problems and to find solutions. The screening of their work as part of Hillywood alongside international feature films serves as a testament to the possibilities of generating grassroots films produced by young people.

Professor Ananda Breed

MAP is now working in all five provinces of Rwanda, across 25 schools serving approximately 300 teachers and trainers as well as 2,500 young people. Teams have also been operating in Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, and Nepal, with thousands of young people participating in a range of arts-related projects. To find out more about the wider Mobile Arts for Peace project, visit the blog site.

Meet the Expert

Professor Ananda Breed
Professor in Theatre
Lincoln School of Creative Arts

Professor Breed is author of 'Performing the Nation: Genocide, Justice, Reconciliation' (Seagull Books, 2014) and co-editor of Performance and Civic Engagement (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) in addition to several publications that address transitional systems of governance and the arts. She has worked as a consultant for IREX and UNICEF in Kyrgyzstan on issues concerning conflict prevention and conducted applied arts workshops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Palestine, Rwanda and Turkey.

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