Drama and Movement Project
At help2kids Malawi we encourage our volunteers to utilize their talents, interests and skills as much as possible during their stay in Lifuwu. Our volunteers help run arts and craft sessions, music sessions, after school English classes, and sports activities. With the support of the volunteer coordinator some even create their own new projects! Every volunteer has something different and valuable to bring to the help2kids projects. This enables the children living in Lifuwu to engage in a range of different activities and gain new experiences and skills!
Our amazing volunteer Simone has started a Drama and Movement project with 15 teenagers from Lifuwu. Initially the group were meant to meet once a week, but the program has been such a success the children have asked for an additional Saturday session! After having spent a month volunteering in Lifuwu and getting to know the local community, Simone realized that the children really enjoyed the opportunity to learn new creative skills. She has devised a program of workshops based on a course she did during her social work degree at University. It is focused on team work, confidence building, and developing leadership and communication skills.
‘The idea for this project came after talking about drama and dance to one of the teenagers in Lifuwu. So I was talking to the volunteer coordinator Toz and we made the project happen. The project itself was my idea, but with her support, experience and knowledge about Malawian culture we could actually make it happen. I am now running the project on my own with help from other volunteers and evaluations with Toz. We all really enjoy the project, and I and the kids are getting closer with every time we meet and the games we are playing are getting more challenging. So everyone is really looking forwards to the next few weeks of the project!’
All the workshops are based around working as a team and building trust between the groups. This has created a strong ethos of inclusivity and community within the group. It has been amazing to see how well the students work together, despite their differences in age, gender and ability. The students are always very supportive of one another, which fosters an environment where no idea is viewed as silly or too extravagant. To begin with everyone was a little shy and self-conscious proposing their ideas and performing in front of each other. But as the weeks progressed, the team building exercises made them more comfortable with each other. They are now very eager to perform to one another at the end of the session and take great pride in their hard work. The focus on performing at the end of each session is improving the student’s confidence and their presentation skills. This will be invaluable regardless of the path they take in life, be it doing a presentation in class or speaking at community meetings!
The project encourages the learners to engage in their individual creativity and think outside the box! Simone wants to foster an environment where the students develop more confidence in their abilities and ideas. Each session the students partake in a number of tasks which encourage them to explore their creative ideas, both individually and as a group. As the weeks have progressed the students are increasingly encouraged to leave their comfort zones, with new creative tasks. In the very first session the students were split into groups and given different tableaux’s to create. They worked very hard at figuring out how to portray ‘a moving car’ or ‘a baby sleeping in bed’ without any words or movement. It was incredible to see the way they all worked in teams, listening to each other, trying out everyone’s individual ideas and then combining them to create the end result.
The program has created the opportunity for the students to develop their communication skills, both by practicing non-verbal communication and presenting the opportunity to practice their English speaking. It is open to all teenagers in the community, some of whom are still in primary school, some in secondary school and others who have not been able to finish their education. This means that there are very different English speaking abilities within the group. This allows all the students to practice speaking English and develop their English comprehension. The students that have a higher level of English are always eager and willing to help translate for other students. The focus on non-verbal communication and movement also helps them develop ways of communication beyond language. They are learning to speak and listen to one another without saying a word. One member of the group, Jonny, is hard of hearing. He is a member of various community groups in Lifuwu, and has developed his own very good system of communication. He is able to fully engage in every activity and the other students are learning a lot from him.
At the end of every session the students sit in a circle to evaluate the session. This encourages the students to critically reflect upon the afternoons activities. They talk about what they learnt throughout the session, what they enjoyed and what they found difficult. This provides an opportunity for each student to talk to the group and express their opinions. Simone has been encouraging the students to think about why they liked and didn’t like certain activities. Their evaluations range from ‘I like this game the most’ to more poignant statements such as ‘I enjoyed this activity as it made me realize that every person, whether they are a king or an old man, are the same.’
Come and volunteer with help2kids and share your skills, talents and knowledge. Along the way you will learn so much from the amazing community in Lifuwu!