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Art Exhibition Sparked by Health Care Training Partnership Opens Oct. 2

A new exhibit at McGuffey Art Center featuring the work of two Rwandan artists grew out of an effort to improve health care in Rwanda that includes the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

While visiting Rwanda, two U.Va. Health System surgeons, Dr. Forrest Calland and Dr. Robin Petroze, met the organizers of Art with a Mission, a charity serving orphans and other underprivileged children in Rwanda.

Run by artists Emmanuel Nkuranga and Innocent Nkurunziza, the charity’s goal is to use art as a medium to heal, empower and promote life skills and opportunities for these children.

Calland saw parallels between the healing promoted through Art with a Mission and his efforts to get the School of Medicine involved in the Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program. Through that effort, U.Va. is one of 13 U.S. schools of medicine, nursing and public health joining with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health to expand training opportunities for Rwandan health care workers and provide more, better-trained health professionals.

“Our friends in Rwanda need meaningful partnerships and collaborations between institutions of higher learning, business and the arts,” Calland said. “This will lead to long-term capabilities that will fundamentally change the futures of Rwandans who are younger than 18, a group that currently constitutes more than 50 percent of Rwanda’s population.”

So Calland reached out to McGuffey Art Center and worked with Nkuranga and two artists at McGuffey, Renee Balfour and Jim Respess, to arrange the exhibit. From Oct. 2 to 28, an exhibit of work by Nkuranga and Nkurunziza will be on display at McGuffey.

The exhibit is the first event presented by Art with a Mission/Charlottesville, which Balfour and Respess founded to support the charitable work of Nkuranga and Nkurunziza. Plans for Art with a Mission/Charlottesville, according to a statement from the group, include exchanges of arts and artists between Charlottesville and Rwanda.

The exhibit’s opening reception will be Oct. 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the McGuffey Art Center, located at 201 2nd St. NW in Charlottesville. U.Va.’s Center for Global Health will host a reception with Nkuranga and Nkurunziza on Oct. 9 from 5 to 8 p.m. at OpenGrounds in the Corner Building, 1400 W. Main St.

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