Monday, September 27, 2010
The Big Little Caravan of Joy is now a CHARITY!
On June 1st, 2010 Friends of Noah Canada (FoNC) and The Big Little Caravan of Joy (BLCJ) amalgamated to become partners in providing care and serving vulnerable and orphaned African children's needs. Thanks to the spirited and bold hearted Nicky Potter, (founder of FoNC) and the benevolent legal team of Trudy White and George Dzuro, the BLCJ now can continue to raise funds for creative programming for these childrenin desperate need of creative play.
The BLCJ’s creative arts camps acts as a springboard for children to explore, experiment and acquire new information about the world and themselves. I believe it is through the exploration of the arts that the dynamics of play will initiate: motivation, self-expression, personal and environmental connections and integrated experiences for all kids involved. I have first hand seen that active creativity in these camps helps heal, integrate and expand each child's potential.
After returning from Swaziland and South Africa this year with the BLCJ at the end of July of 2010 I was once again reminded at how powerful our creative spirit can be in elevating spirits even in the darkest situations. Part of my ethical framework when working with vulnerable and orphaned children in Africa is to dismantle the consciousness of fear and sorrow and replace that with the natural programming of love and creativity. I often go into areas that are quite heavy hearted. As I work in the field I do my utmost best to reflect back to the artists, childcare givers and to the sweet vulnerable children, their light and extraordinary potential to create and express their authentic truth and playful spirits. I know that I am also there to simply bear witness to all of their precious lives. I do believe that we are all infinitely wise, spirited with determination and creative. Just as it takes a good friend or loving parent to affirm us when we are down so that we can get back to our authentic selves the BLCJ’s purpose has the same purpose too. The mission of the BLCJ is to empower the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children by using the performing arts and creative play for health, development and joy. This also includes empowering the lives of of childcare workers, guardians, artists and educators with a child-centric methodology that uses a performing arts and creative curriculum for health, development and joy.
I know from my work with thousands that when we are not vital, creative and collaborating with and for community something in ourselves becomes static. When community is creating together and expressing their art and culture confidence and enthusiasm unfolds and vibrations are lifted with joy.
We must hurry slowly. Time is of the essence when it comes to supporting these little children.
My Team Joy in Swaziland consisted of the incomparable: Nicholas Mamba (artistic director of Peoples’ Educational Theatre) Andrew Moyo, Sandile Ndzimandze, Musa, ZikalalaWandile, Phumzile, Phumzile, Mensi
... and in South Africa: Shembiso Hlela, Sabee Shozi, Sussie Mjwara, Busi, Sipho Mdletshe
along with my awesome volunteers: Tully McLoughlin- a Yale undergraduate student and social/educational theatre researcher
Duncan Maccallum-local high school student in Durban and the brilliant Damarise St. Marie-a dance student in Quebec City.
They all made this work flow with grace, ease, joy and laughter.
Noah South Africa’s team was headed by Joslyn Walker who brought such support and guidance to the BLCJ’s vision! She was a star. Jamie Laughlin from Clowns Without Borders South Africa guided and connected us to individuals that created loving and compassionate expressive possibilities for thousands. Without these people and my Team Joy’s dedication and commitment this project would not have been possible! I thank them from the bottom of my heart!
This year I have discovered a way to create sustainability in this work - by educating educators! THE EMPOWERED AFRICAN CHILD (EAC) 2011, will be a national conference held in Swaziland and South Africa that will foster professional development in the arts for all delegates involved. Research indicates that introducing children to artistic processes, while incorporating elements of their own culture into education, cultivates in each individual a sense of creativity, cognitive development, a fertile imagination and emotional intelligence. The intention of the conference is to instill for each delegate a sense of joy and new found conﬁdence in working children in the arts. The EAC will utilize the country’s best performing artists and speakers, to create a strong voice in the importance, relevance and investment of an arts education for the Swazi Child. This conference will also provide hundreds of ideas for curriculum implementation, after-school, daycare and holiday programming for all children. In the next few months we will both be creating a detailed curriculum that will include keynote speakers, performers and workshop leaders. If you have any fundraising ideas or any organizations that would be willing to financially help with this vision please do let us know too! Look at what others have said about this conference and workshop experience.
Sandile, Social Worker:
“We can’t limit this experience to meetings and training. This is something that must be sustainable. We should be engaging other players, educators, NGOS and orphanages. This provide psycho/social support. The topic here should be how do we as artists reach the children? Their must be a forum so that the village North where there are many vulnerable children. It is not about just feeding the children.”
“I learned the difference between reaction and response! This workshop made me believe in myself.”
“Sarina is a kind and sympathetic woman. I realized that I was bullying my children at home and now I understand how to handle the children in a better way. I realized that I need to connect to laughter so that I can connect to the child spirit more.”
“From Sarina I learned about how to connect emotionally with the children. I also learned how important and crucial the development years are for the child. I also realized that I love and care about children more than I was aware of. For me this was an inspiring workshop that was shared with love and compassion.”
“For me Sarina’s workshop taught me to work with children you need to open your heart. It changed me for I was punishing children in a hard way before. My wish is to work with Sarina in the future.”
Thanks to each and everyone of you for believing in the spirit and joy of play, the beauty, truth and inspiration held in the arts and reflecting that back to me. A big THANK YOU to the following compassionate and generous people:
Bedford park Players
Little Children at LBHS
Turning Pointe Dance Studio (Nicole Garland)
Toronto Sport Social Club
Mary Murphy COSTUMES
Circus Remedy (Anthony Lucero)
NOAH’ S SOUTH AFRICA PET THEATRE SWAZILAND
The National Ballet SCHOOL of CANADA
The Church of the Messiah, Reverend Tay Moss
Lawrence Park Community Church
Mike Evans, Gail Leger, Kimberly Irwin
Deb and Phil - hosting this event
Pierre and Felicity Bannister
Bojan Vitko and Shari Morandin
Ruth and Tony Condello
A Big HUGE THANKS to the following:
George and Kathy Dembroski
Trudy and George
Nicky Potter & FRIENDS OF NOAH CANADA
Damarise St. Marie (you went far beyond your call of duty girl!)
All the kids who I worked with in Canada, America and Africa
My friends and family who live far away
My 3 children for making me who I am today
Finally this is how I spent $23,000 this summer of 2010!
Where we traveled:
Mbabane, the capital city of the Kingdom of Swaziland; as well as Durban, a South African port city on the Indian Ocean; and Cape Town, the most South-Western point on the African continent.
Paid for all airfare, insurance, hotel, extra baggage fee, food etc.
Traveled to Swaziland and orchestrated a 2 day workshop for 30 childcare givers, artists, educators and NGO’s all fees, driving, food, manuals, equipment rental
Hired 7 artists for 2 weeks to create a program for the Esigangeni Primary School in Swaziland, payed them fare trade wages,
Paid for all transport ( car rental), lunches, manuals equipment, accommodations, rental of car, gas, supplies for the 2 weeks in Swaziland
Bought gifts of gratitude and healing for teachers, families and new found friends
Created a community event that fed 1,000 people to honour the child and create a celebratory, memorable event for all. 625-650 children performed for the community
Traveled to Swaziland to South Africa in vehicle
Created a workshop for 30 people in Durban for two days; once again paid for manuals, breakfast, lunches
Rented a car for a month AND hired a driver and bus for the same amount of time
All food, accommodations, staff meetings, meals
All photos, crafts supplies, and weekly breakfasts meetings
Hired 6 staff members for 4 weeks in South Africa
Huge donation of full kitchen supplies to an ARK
HOT DOG LUNCH for 500 children
Donation of to DOJO of equipment for Sabee
Bought 4 trunks to store equipment
Took sponsors and volunteer for final dinner
Trip to Capetown, accommodations etc.
Researched townships and history of SOUTH AFRICA through 3 tours
Established a new relationship with the township of LANGA and Chippa
Purchased costumes, hard hats and teacher fees for a month, for a troupe of 30 children called Happy FEET
Number of Beneficiaries as a result of this work in 8 1/2 weeks:
Children: 1,050 received between 10-25 hours of programming
Hired Staff: 14 staff members hired throughout the 2 months
Workshop Participants: 60
Educators, NOAH childcare workers: 50-60
Government Officials and NGO’s: 25
Community Members: 600-1000
TOTAL : Approximately : 2,200
We almost tripled the beneficiaries this year and created 2 conferences as compared to last year.
Now this is called rocking out your passion and paying it forward to the sweet children of our planet!