Hundreds of community members flooded into the Village Health Works site to attend the country’s first ever international music exchange concert. Virtuoso musicians, composers, and educators—Wendy Steiner, Nina Stern, Reine-Mari Verhagen, Matilda Gampietro, and Lynn Waickman—from preeminent institutions, including the Juilliard School in New York City, spent 10 days at the Village Health Works site, implementing a musical and cultural exchange program for 100 students.
Their efforts training local teachers, teaching daily music classes, and learning from local musicians and dancers culminated in a beautiful outdoor concert attended by guests, such as the honorable U.S. Ambassador Dawn Liberi, the UN Chief of Staff, and representatives from the Dutch Embassy and UNICEF. The program included Burundian drumming and dance, Western recorder and percussion performances by students and teachers, and original compositions on the umuduri, ikembe, andinanga. The concert concluded with the audience singing the Burundian national anthem.
The musicians visiting from America and Europe donated enough recorders, percussion instruments, and Montessori bells for 100 students and 15 local instructors. The concert demonstrated the profound power of music, and the new after school program has been integrated into Village Health Works’ already expansive curriculum, teaching French, English, mathematics, sports, and arts to local youth.