Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Day 2 (morning): Building Community, a discussion on how to curb violence and empower women.

Today we began with a general assembly. Waiting for the directors to arrive, the campers began to chant their theme songs. The gorillas beat their chests, the Eagles flapped their wings, and the excitement built as each group tried to outdo the other. Soon, the directors arrived. After a short lesson in American Sign, they discussed the program for the day. Today we have visitors from Rafiki Theatre and Raising Voices in the morning, starting conversations about gender equality and violence. In the afternoon we have sessions on conflict resolution


Domestic Violence and Gender Equality- The campers were introduced to the various types of domestic violence and then broke into their camper groups to create their own definitions of domestic violence.  Campers put to use their critical thinking skills.  An open dialogue was held and individual campers were given the opportunity to share their attitudes about domestic violence and the impact it has on the family unit and the individual.

In the main hall, Rafiki Theatre presented Sweet School, a story about how a teacher finds a group of students 'misbehaving' and canes a student as punishment. The play next switches to a scene where a girl is bullied and sexually harassed by her new classmates. Rosemary, a founding member of Rafiki, says that the play is one of the oldest in their two-year repertoire. 

In one poignant scene an actor is told to kiss the foot of a boy. She complies reluctantly, as others shove her to the ground. She kneels. Kisses. As the students further continue to harass her, another girl steps forward to defend her. When she is also harassed, she backs the boy off. Stands up for herself. Then, the actor turns and addresses the boys in the audience directly. "Why are you laughing?" The boys quiet as she talks about how such harassment affects girls in the village and the school, who are sometimes just looking for a safe place to be themselves. Finally, she turns back and the play continues.

Following the performance, one of the actors led a discussion. As ideas of other ways to interact were brought up, the boys became part of the performance to try out their ideas with the actors in play.

In discussion, the boys were asked. "Do you the boys think that what you are doing is good?" "How does his intervention change the situation?" The answers to these questions fed further discussion in small groups.

This is the first time that Rafiki has performed for a single-sex audience. Normally it is the girls challenging the boys on sexual harassment. Rosemary was surprised that today, for the first time, some of the boys filled that role and challenged the others on whether sexual harassment is okay. Yet, Rosemary says, "Sometimes I think we have a long way to go." 

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