“Now I can forget my dark past.”
This simple phrase captures the essence of the story I am about to share. A story of desperation, solitude, but also about hope and the power of art. It is the story of a young man called Patrick who at the age of three was abandoned by his father. Raised by his mother, Patrick soon ran away from home and joined the rough life of the streets.
We found Patrick at the Abadacogora rehabilitation center – a center that is run by nuns. This is also the place where my organization, Kaami Arts, started teaching art classes and where our paths crossed. Patrick soon joined our dance, theatre, and drumming classes and was introduced to the new world of the arts.
Kaami arts believes in making good use of the arts to stimulate expression, creativity, problem solving, positive thinking, confidence, peace and unity among children. We partner with centers such as Abadacogora that houses children that used to live on the streets, to teach them about life through art.
Patrick’s journey was only beginning of such a life story. When we enrolled him into the classes, we did not know that he would turn out to be such an excellent actor and performer. When he lived in the streets, he only heard about theatre via the radio. He never thought that he would get a chance to become an actor himself one day.
Patrick’s journey is a success story for our organization. Not only because Patrick is now off the streets but because his attitude towards life has changed from the inside out. He always says that art has helped him forget his dark past. If you were to ask him which dark past he refers to, Patrick’s face would darken, he would smile, pause, then say: “It shields me from the anger inside.” He would take another long pause, look at his fingers before adding, in a murmur: “When I used to remember how my father abandoned me, I would take my anger out on other kids. But now I have learnt how to manage my emotions, I have learnt to conquer the war inside and embrace peace.”
Patrick is now 13 years old. He has been reunited with his mother and is one of the 33 children trained by Kaami arts at Abadacogora center in theater, dance and drumming. Last year alone we enrolled 2 767 street boys to participate and act in “Urakunzwe Kibondo Project” – a 45-minute drama called “My Story” that portrays a detailed life of a street child.
Every year we reach out to young kids like Patrick, teach them through the arts and give them hope for a better future. Our vision is to create a world where the arts are developed; to contribute to the creation of a peaceful society where children live a better today and a confident tomorrow.
Pull Quote: We did not know that he would turn out to be such an excellent actor and performer.