Bertin Kasolene, the founder and CEO of Inuka Dance Company, is using the power of dance to help children affected by traumatic circumstances in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Africa News, after the volcanic eruption of Goma’s Mount Nyiragongo began in May, thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes.

In the days following the eruption, several earthquakes shook the city, including a 5.3 magnitude earthquake that caused further damage to buildings and homes. The U.N. reports that around thirty people lost their lives as a result of these natural disasters. Hundreds remain missing. Many more lost access to power and clean water.

Among the displaced were many children, some of whom lost family members and have been separated from everything they know. Living in shelters away from their neighborhoods and schools, they have found their lives suddenly turned upside down.

Photo credit: Hanna Morris

Kasolene wanted to find a way to bring some form of hope and stability to these children’s lives. He started a dance workshop, teaching traditional dances and dance games to kids aged three to 10. He currently hosts around forty children in his workshop.

“We are immersing children in dance to give them hope and love, after the recent eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano in the city of Goma,” said Kasolene. “We are coaching them to give them a bit of hope. Through these dances we are showing them that they are important in life too.”

Now living amongst different families and tribes, Kasolene notes the importance of the children learning unity and being able to coexist with different groups.

Photo credit: Frank McKenna

“Our country has faced a lot of wars which have divided people, created tribalism,” Kasolene explained to Africa News. “It is important to understand from an early age that it’s possible to unite…to move forward for a better world. They are not even from one tribe, they are really different, and we want to encourage this spirit of living and working alongside one other.”

In addition to bringing hope and stability, and teaching unity, Bertin Kasolene believes the classes are also therapeutic for the children, and are useful in helping them cope with the trauma they have experienced.

“We are seeing how dance can be a trauma tool that can help them go beyond themselves and find again a sense of calmness,” he said. “It helps them to think things through and to not be stressed all the time because at their age it’s not good to be stressed.”

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