Sizanani World Camp is a week-long American style camp for kids affected by HIV/AIDS. this week there are 130 girls.
Some of them are 15 and the heads of their households.
in their world there are funerals every weekend.
The camp focuses on life-skills, empowerment and adventure.
It is their second day and already they are full of power. chanting and singing loudly on their way to each activity.
The staff - local South African counselours, and volunteer foreign counselours are amazing.
We do a show in the morning. The talking and talking and revising and revising pays off.
It is a 1st rate show.
We have a blast doing it. The girls are a great audience. They trick me into walking the wrong way looking for jamie in the pink panther chase scene. They clap and whoop for the volunteers on stage.
Maybe it is because they are all girls.
In the afternoon, Alice and I teach workshops. James and Jamie are our assistant teachers. We are trying hard this trip to have us women in powerful roles, both in the show and in other interactions.
The workshops start with silly warmups and games to loosen up voice, body, and emotions.
The we move onto forum theater type work.
We are working on developing an emotional well-being and life-dreams workshop curriculum for Project Njabulo.
For the first workshop we stage tableaux of difficult situation the girls have lived through and then alter them to show positive outcomes. And my word, the girls have lived through difficult situations:
- an uncle stabbed to death in front of one of the girls
- being abducted by a man in a black care
it is hard core. but I push through it and it ends on a very positive note. a comment about how good it is to share ones experiences and discover that we are not alone, others have experienced similar things and still we can envision positive outcomes together.
For the second workshop we stage the girls' happiest memories. This is much more in line with the mission of Project Njabulo (joy in zulu.) not just tableaux, they use voice and movement. they are brilliant. the room is fulled with:
- surprise birthday parties
- passing school grads
- winning prizes
truly enriching. I end the workshop with a visualization excercise:
what did you feel in your body when you remembered your happiest memory
what did you feel when you shared your happiest memory
what did you feel when you staged your happiest memory
or what did you feel when you acted out someone else's happiest memory
now imagine that all of these feelings connected to your happy memory are in your belly. put your hands on your stomach and feel the emotions in your belly. now open your eyes.
we are all standing in a circle looking at each other, hands on belly.
we end with a big group whooopy.
leave the camp full of energy. tomorrow is South African heritage day, a national holiday and we have a day off. This means we will have a 3 hr rehearsal to fine-tune the show even more. But it is not work. It is life. We are living our work.
Our team in uniform: Jamie, Alice, Selena, and James (our logistics coordinator)