Theatre promoting dialogue, understanding and uplifting spirits of communities
“Finally, after 8 years, we were able to share our stories with each other”
Kolhufushi Island in Meemu Atoll was among the most affected during the 2004 tsunami, with inhabitants living in temporary housing even today.
The unfortunate twist of fate and dire living conditions mean the islanders are faced with daily frustrations and struggles. Many of them remain aggravated by the lack of progress made in terms of reconstruction of the island and the inadequacies and humiliation of living in tiny, temporary homes. This is coupled with many migrating to the capital Male’ which has left the island community even more devoid of human capital and, particularly tragically, left with the perception of a lost generation. The people also are concerned over how they’ve become less friendly and self-absorbed; with the island community divided into two factions.
Both factions were represented at a workshop held to facilitate the community-based theatre (CBT) technique in Kolhufushi Island, an exercise which brought a little hope to this community.
CBT is designed to promote community-based, grassroots and people-led dialogues on sensitive community issues and conflicts. It brings people from all walks of life together to openly discuss problems, and promote the inclusion of and respect for multiple perspectives around the same issues. The concept builds upon the intellectual, emotional and creative resources of participants, increases self-confidence, self-awareness and self-worth, and validates individual stories and experiences.
- The people of Kolhufushi are concerned over how they’ve become less friendly and self-absorbed; with the island community divided into two factions.
- CBT is designed to promote community-based, grassroots and people-led dialogues on sensitive community issues and conflicts.
- Through this activity the community was presented with the opportunity to look at some of the current situations creating conflict on the island.
CBT was introduced in the Maldives with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as part of a comprehensive pilot initiative in 2011. In total, two months of intense CBT trainings, workshops and performances were carried out in Male’ and islands, and a total of three outreach activities were organized on three different atolls: Thaa, Meemu and Haa Dhaalu Atoll. The main objective of the activities was to introduce CBT on the islands, test its usefulness and validity as a dialogue promoting tool and to explore some of the problems and conflicts present on the islands.
In Kolhufushi Island, the two-day CBT workshop was followed by a playback theatre performance held at the only school on the island. A total of 22 participants, ranging in ages 19 to 58 participated in the activities.
Through this activity the community was presented with the opportunity to look at some of the current situations creating conflict on the island. Not surprisingly, most of their comments were related to the aftermath of the tsunami. When asked to make theatrical images of how they would wish the future to look like on the island, the participants aspired to a return to a “normal life, as it was before the tsunami - a life where people smiled at each other, and a life where people can live in peace, with proper housing, education and employment.”
During the theatre exercises, some of the participants used their experiences to tell their personal stories of what happened to them and their families during the tsunami. Many of them had experienced death in the family or were forced to help others who had lost someone close. “After 8 years, I finally felt I could share what happened during those days. It hurts to tell these stories, but I also feel better finally doing so,” one of the male participants shared with the group. Another affirmed her belief that the people on the island will eventually overcome their difficulties and create a better future for themselves and their community.
- MEET THE TEAM TUESDAY “I am inspired by the work done by communities” AHMED HAMDHAN Project Coordinator, Rule of Law and Access to Justice - Integrated Governance Programme I have always been passionate about development work, despite my skepticism for certain approaches by international organizations in developing countries. It was only natural therefore that when I joined UNDP nine months ago, I did so being cynical of the role of UNDP and the impact of its programmes in the Maldives. However, as I leave UNDP at the end of this month, I am more than ever convinced of the crucial role that UNDP plays in making a difference in people’s lives. I am especially encouraged by the work the agency does in seeking localized solutions to development issues through new and innovative approaches. Governance is and have always been my passion, and my main area of work. Since joining UNDP, I have also developed a new found interest in the environment. I was inspired by the work done by the local community of Noonu Kudafari, especially their work on waste management. I am from the island of Kendhoo in Baa Atoll, and as in other islands of the Maldives, waste management has always been a major issue in my local community. Kendhoo already had a composting facility which remained unused, and the Council was very positive about starting composting waste on the island. I came to know that they just needed the technical know-how and the motivation to initiate this work. So myself and my colleague Adam Abdulla who works in UNDP’s Environment Unit, travelled to Kendhoo one weekend, and were able to help the Council start composting work. Since then, we have traveled several times to monitor the progress of the composting facility on my island. There’s still more work to be done, and I look forward to continuing the work we have started in this area. We did this not as part of our official duties, but because we found a shared passion in helping to bring about positive changes within our communities, and I can honestly say that this is true for all the staff working at UNDP Maldives. My regular job is as a Project Coordinator for the Integrated Governance Programme of UNDP Maldives, and I am responsible for the design and implementation of activities related to enhancing access to justice and protection of human rights in the Maldives. Before joining UNDP, I worked at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), focused on electoral reforms in the Maldives. Yesterday AT 07:11 AM
- We are helping Maldivian communities establish good waste management practices in the islands. Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development - LECRD Project. L.Maamendhoo Council Monday AT 09:56 AM
- "See more posts on"Facebook