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    Raising chickens to build a dance studio

    Day 208

    The Chicken Dance

    We met the Burundian drummers on Day 195 – a group that uses drums to share their cultural heritage with others in Nakivale. But equally important and performing alongside them is the Burundian Dance Troupe, led by Lillian. When asked what they wanted to help support and strengthen their dance troupe, Lillian and her fellow dancers expressed interest in supporting their livelihoods project so they could continue to share their love of traditional Burundian dance in their new community.

    And what they wanted isn’t what you’d expect at first glance. “We are looking to build a chicken coop!” Lillian exclaimed. How exactly does a chicken coop benefit a dance troupe? The investment is a better fit than you might think. “Chickens will help us raise money. And we will gain business skills.”

    The chickens will provide a steady source of income, which allows the dancers to raise the money themselves to build a new dance studio. And that in turn will raise even more funds, as the new studio will double as a practice studio and a storage space – for the Burundian drums, dance costumes, and even other livelihoods tools like fabric and sewing machines. The team can then reinvest their earnings back into their troupe, creating more opportunities for themselves and the community.

    Once the chicken coop is complete, the team will switch focus to building the dance studio, which allows them to practice inside any time.

    “Ladies can learn new dances here, when the weather is bad” Lillian explained. “Being together lets us help each other. We work and support together.”

    The dance troupe works by learning and practicing together. And they share in successes – and disappointments – together too. “Many of us struggle with our own problems. Music and dancing helps us forget.” And it’s a chance to share their culture and train a new generation of dancers, too. “Dance helps get rid of stress” Lillian says. “It brings out the love in our heart.” And that is definitely something worth investing in.

    A huge thanks to Michael Hay, William Dennis, Nicole Parker, Ashley Kwiatkowski, Carmen Barker Lemay, SweatShop Health Club, The Palmieri Family, Alexis Captanian, Tracy Jo, Nergis Petersen and anonymous donors for making the dancers’ idea happen!

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