Asheville (NC), USA – This fall, a group of Rwandan children will go to the U.S. as cultural ambassadors to take audiences on a journey into the lives of the Rwandan people through music, dance, costumes and drumming. They are known as the Mizero Troupe and they live and perform by their name: “Mizero” which in Kinyarwanda means “hope.”
This extraordinary tour kicks off at the Lake Eden Arts Festival in Asheville, North Carolina, in October, travels to Montreal Millennium Summit (Nov. 7th – 9th) where activists Michael Douglas, Mia Farrow and Tim Robbins will lead discussions on extreme poverty, hunger, war and infant mortality and concludes at the United Nations Day in New York in December.
While many organizations are helping Rwanda recover from the 1994 genocide, few have addressed the issue of cultural brokenness. “My vision for Mizero is to build, bring and to spread hope to Rwandan children through our vibrant music and dance traditions,” says Mizero founder Jean Paul Samputu.
The children first came together in December 2006 when a team from Lake Eden Arts Festival joined musician Jean Paul Samputu in his native country of Rwanda. They wanted to help Rwandan youth who were orphaned during the 1994 genocide or as a result of AIDS. They matched the troupe with native drums, guitars, costumes, mentors, and a safe place to gather weekly to continue to learn their traditions.
From this collaboration sparked the formation of the Mizero Children of Rwanda, a nonprofit organization that believes through music and arts, youth receive self-confidence, life skills and creative expression to help them heal and go forward. These children are sharing their gift of music and performance while raising awareness about the 1 million other orphans of Rwanda.
Mizero Children of Rwanda looks forward to creating other programs in collaboration with other forward-thinking organizations. Ultimately, Mizero wants to create an arts academy with housing in Kigali, Rwanda. Explains Mizero president Brent Swanson, “The Arts-Academy will be a university level conservatory where students will have access to a general education and an opportunity to learn the aesthetic traditions of various East and Central African cultures. We also plan to emphasize the blending of technology and the arts as a source of empowerment, in order that they may be competitive in the modern world.”
For tour information on this extraordinary event, visit www.mizerochildren.org/itinerary.
For more information on the Mizero Children’s Troupe or to make a donation, visit www.mizerochildren.org.