iLEAP International Fellow, 2016
Peter Ndayihereje, from rural Burundi, discovered the healing power of music when he was a university student. Seeing young men living on the streets and stealing to survive, he decided to put his drumming skills to use. He formed a drum club with the young men, and eventually they began performing and earning a living, “entertaining the very neighborhood they were threatening before,” he says.
Now he is a community engagement program coordinator with Village Health Works, which serves more than 20,000 households in and around his home village of Kigutu. He began working with the organization when it was founded eight years ago, coordinating volunteers to build the very first clinic. Seeing another opportunity to use music for healing, he created a musical troupe that accompanies the medical team on community visits. “Some of the community members were traumatized due to the political conflicts and poverty,” he explains. “The cultural dance (is) very helpful to make people happier and more united.” The troupe writes and performs songs about fighting tuberculosis and other diseases, which educates them and lifts their spirits: “People follow the advice in a good mood.”
Peter is also a father and dreams that his two young children will be able “to go beyond our borders, to learn, dare and come back home to make a positive impact in their own communities.” As an iLEAP Fellow, he will meet other international leaders and gain insights into how he can continue being a successful change agent in Kigutu and beyond.