Hamwe Festival Returns with A Focus On COVID-19 Social Challenges

Prof. Agnes Binagwaho, UGHE Vice Chancellor

Hamwe Festival, an annual event that brings together the health sector and creative industry to improve access to services and the quality of healthcare delivery around the world is back with the live and virtual performances, focusing on Covid-19 social impacts.

It is organized by the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE). The third editio of the Hamwe festival opened at the Kigali Public Library on November 10. It will span live and virtually from November 10 – 14, 2021.

According UGHE, bridging the gap across health and creative art sectors is a necessity, not only to improve access to services and the quality of healthcare delivery around the world, but also to eliminate the gap between the most and least disadvantaged communities.

“Since the creation of the event, participants have shared many ideas, and it has been a table of discussion for health challenges in communities to find solutions,” Prof. Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor of UGHE said.

“Creative art like music and others reduce stress in communities, this is a huge challenge and the creative industry has the power to heal it, patients can feel better because of art,” Prof. Binagwaho said.

Without mentioning names of artists expected at the Hamwe festival this year, she said that they will come from six continents of the world.

The Festival will take place at various locations across Kigali including Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) headquarters premises, Kigali Public Library, among others.

  The first edition of Hamwe Festival in 2019, explored a diverse range of possible collaborations between creative industries and health sectors.

The second edition of the festival took place only online from November 11th to November 15th, 2020, and discussed Mental Health and Social Justice through the prism of the arts and art-based research, reaching more than 26,000 viewers from all over the world.

This year, the third edition, Hamwe Festival aims to reflect on the social changes that have occurred since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019. In particular, it will look at how changes caused by the pandemic have affected health and social systems and the inequities within them.

In the third edition also, the festival invited artists, scholars, community organizers, and health professionals to reflect on how COVID-19 affected family structure, elderly care and healthcare financing.

Other effects to reflect on are community solidarity, taxation, migration, mental health, climate change, biodiversity and the important role of creativity and arts.

“If you want to move hearts, use art,” Edouard Bamporiki, States Minister in charge of culture in the Ministry of Youth and Culture said.

“After the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwandans were advised to be united, but one of the ways to promote this at that time was creative art.”

The Hamwe festival will also include a preview of the films produced by UGHE for Visualizing the Virus – an international digital project that showcases and investigates the diverse ways in which SARS-Cov2 and the COVID-19 pandemic was visualized and the inequalities it makes visible.

It will include interviews with artists and a live musical performance.

According to UGHE, the third Hamwe Festival will attract speakers and artists from 13 countries and will feature a variety of sessions.

They will include panel discussions, presentations from health professionals, lively and engaging performances from artists from around the world, film screenings, short story contests, and curated exhibitions.

UGHE says this year’s Hamwe Festival will announce a partnership with WellcomeTrust, the independent global charitable foundation, as part of Mindscapes, their international cultural programme about mental health.

Wellcome supports scientists, to take on big health challenges, campaigns for better science and helps everyone get involved in research.

Hamwe Festival embodies these values through the provision of a creative outlet where implementors and artists discuss better, more innovative ways to improve health care through arts.

Its targets artists in the design and implementation of more health programs that can be a catalyst for action against intractable health challenges and looks forward to continuing to build this platform to encourage more collaboration and innovation.

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