BHA launched its first pilot project, the Theater Smile Initiative, in Musanze District in the Northern Province of Rwanda in August 2014. We partnered with a local organization called Grain de Seneve, which supports the development of vulnerable peoples in Rwanda.
The workshop included 27 kids, youth and young adults (between the ages of 7-20) who have lived on the street in the past, still beg on the street currently or are at high risk of ending up on the street, as well as kids from normal families. The workshop provided a safe place to learn from each other, share their ideas and develop solutions to the street kid phenomenon. Their final performance was a chance to advocate for their own interests in front of their community’s leaders. Click here to view photos from the workshop.
Taking into account the lessons learned in the pilot project, BHA plans to expand its reach by creating additional theater groups throughout Rwanda. BHA will also continue working with the original group of 2014 participants, and help them make an even bigger impact on their community by continuing to offer workshops and theater development training. We are also planning on taking their play on tour to other villages, and broadcasting it on the radio.
Participants participate in a series of theater workshops, where they learn from experienced Rwandan actors new theater techniques, communication skills, and have some fun. Participants are encouraged to develop their interpersonal skills, and tell their life stories in a safe environment.
The play which the kids act out at the end of the workshop, and later take on tour throughout their community is carefully crafted to incorporate the stories, and views of the workshop participants on pressing social issues concerning them. This provides an avenue for kids to share their stories and sensitize their peers about their past and current struggles. In August 2014’s workshop, the participants focused on developing solutions to the street kid phenomenon.
BHA organizes, in conjunction with Grain de Seneve, community events that attract community leaders, where participants have the opportunity to perform the plays from the theater workshop, giving them the opportunity to bring community awareness to their struggles and advocate for their own interests.