The Center for Arts in Medicine is proud to be part of a consortium of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) working to improve the quality of life for people in Rwanda since 2007. The partnering organizations are The Barefoot Artists, the Rwanda Red Cross, Engineers without Borders, Jeff Health, and the Rwandan Village Concept Project. As a part of this consortium, the Center for Arts in Medicine supports local initiatives in Western Rwanda that use the arts to enhance health literacy, access to healthcare, community engagement, vocational skills, and general health and well-being in communities of genocide survivors and indigenous people.
The Center has taken interdisciplinary teams of student and professional artists and health providers to Rwanda each year between 2008 and 2019. In partnership with community and consortium members, these teams have undertaken numerous project including: supporting the development of theatre and dance troupes and a lay health team in the Rugerero genocide survivor village, arts-based health literacy projects and ongoing health assessments in the Rugerero survivor village and support of the development of pottery and dance cooperatives, and development of a bicycle and moto taxi cooperative in Gisenyi that promotes health literacy and provides free transport to health clinics. These projects use the arts to enhance health literacy, health, vocational opportunities and quality of life in these communities.
In 2011, with support from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation and the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, we hosted the East Africa Arts & Health Forum in Kigali, Rwanda. Artists, arts organizations, public health and ministry of health professionals from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and the Demcratic Republic of Congo (DRC) gathered for three days of presentations and sharing to highlight and advance the use of the arts for promoting health in East Africa. The forum led to the development of an East Africa Arts & Health Network and national arts in health organizations in Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC.