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Singing, dancing, acting and music: promoting child rights

Promoting child rights is one of the most important things we do as an organisation.  We campaign, lobby and advocate for the rights of children–be it their right to education, health and protection–to be fulfilled by governments and duty-bearers.   

It is, of course, essential to educate the community on this issue.  Parents, teacher and carers must understand that children have rights that must be protected and fulfilled.

On a recent visit to Mbuji Mayi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I visited one of our programmes which aim to make communities aware of child rights. 

Street theatre

Instead of the usual talks or putting up of posters, we are doing this through something more innovative and exciting–street theatre!  We arrive in the community at mid-day and stand under a tree while the musicians get ready.  There are no tickets for the show or any announcements.  Everything is spontaneous. 

Musicians playing as people gather for the performance

The musicians start playing to invite people to the performance.  Kids and adults alike gather round and a role play begins. 

The plot is simple.  A 13-year old girl is asked by her father to collect water.  On the way, she meets a man who offers her free water and food.  This sounds too good to be true, and it is. 

The old man ends up abusing the girl and offers a dowry to her father.  The father accepts the dowry and agrees for the man to marry his daughter. 

Alarm bells

At this point, alarm bells ring in my head, and thankfully another man comes into the story.  This time it’s the community leader and explains that the situation is unaceptable.  In the end the girl returns home and her abuser goes to jail. 

After the role play, lessons are highlighted to the community and the children.  Childre are then invited to join in and dance while the musicians play their last song.

Children join in and dance at the end of the performance

The performance offers a moment of respite from the daily life of the community.  It gives them a chance to gather and listen to some music.  There is a sense of unity during the event.  In the process, the community is made aware of the need to protect the rights of the children.  What a great way to spread child rights!

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