We held our Scenarios from Africa Celebration at the beginning o f this month and it was both a success and something we learned a lot for the next contest! We called it a celebration because we weren’t going to have a competition or a contest and ‘gathering’ didn’t quite fit it. It’s basically a discussion about HIV/AIDS through drama and so the word celebration doesn’t quite fit either but we didn’t know what else to call it. We had about 75 kids participate – not has many as I hoped but still a good turnout, all things considered. We figured out that we didn’t actually give the kids enough time to prepare, they wanted to approach family and friends for help with certain things but the month time frame didn’t allow for enough preparation. Lesson #1 – next time introduce the contest at least 3 months ahead of the deadline.
When we bring the kids from all the centres together, a lot of logistics are required but somehow the staff falls short of the adequate planning. We learned the hard way the last time around so we made sure to create the agenda the day before. It helped a lot but there were still missing aspects – like what to occupy the kids with while we are still waiting for the others to show up. Silly me forgot the educational DVD’s but luckily I live close to the centre and was able to retrieve them quickly. Lesson #2 – you can never be over prepared so planning even a few days a head of time is ideal if not essential.
The kids performed dramas, poems and songs, all written by themselves. I think my favorite were the songs, one in particular that stressed the importance of using condoms. The kids were very encouraging of each other and after each performance they had a cute chant thanking the performer and they each got a rating – 3 claps was good and 6 was great. Susan and Charity and the other staff said the stories weren’t good – partly because we didn’t give them enough time and partly because we didn’t get to the centres to help guide them. Although I take the blame for not being able to get to all the centres during the previous month to show them the DVD’s, help go over their rough drafts and facilitate the discussions like I hoped, I realized that I can rely on staff in those situations. Lesson number #3 – delegate and have the staff help out even more!
Previously I said a lot about what I hoped this project would achieve – peer education, change in their understanding of the disease and a crumpling of the stigma attached – so many idealistic things. I’m not sure these were achieved but it’s a step in the right direction. The kids really enjoyed it and I know that they could do even better with a little more guidance. So I haven’t lost hope – especially because some of the kids even said they want to continue working on their stories during the next year. Lesson #4 – the outcome may not be what I expected but it doesn’t mean the kids didn’t learn a lot throughout the process.
And as a side note - I invited my girls from the village to participate. I didn’t give them much time either but they were very excited and up for the challenge. I was able to give them a little feedback and their stories turned out great. Although they didn’t get to perform anything – they were just as excited and can’t wait to hear if their stories are chosen. While I love all of the kids at the different Phedišang centres, it is sometimes hard to tackle projects with them because I want them all to benefit equally and therefore need to spend enough time at each centre. It’s easier with my girls because there are only a handful of them – Natacia, Noami, Refiloe, Polosho, Komotso and Desire. We have formed a special bond that all started when I finally got off my butt and ran through the village. They are all smart and bright girls but I’m not sure they get enough positive attention when it comes to who they are and what they are capable of being. I like to believe that the little projects I do with them, like the art projects, making valentine’s day cards and this Scenarios thing, opens the doors of their creative minds and gets them to think abstractly about their world and the way they view it. More idealistic and hopefulness...
Overall the Scenarios project went well. There is still some feedback I need to get but that will happen soon. We learned a lot about the process and we understand how to facilitate for the larger group next time around. I received confirmation that the stories made it to their destination and so now we keep our fingers crossed and hope that one of our kids is a special winner!