The time is NOW in Swaziland! The time is ripe for a new movement in arts education for the young Swazi child!
The Big Little Caravan of Joy has arrived in Swaziland! Hurray, hurray!! We are now entering day four of our arts program in a rural school, up in the mountains. We are also gearing up for a symposium that will encourage, support and design a sustainable arts based program for the young children of Swaziland- The Empowered African Child!
Everything is put in place:
- a great arts curriculum for the early years designed by the curriculum department
- a governmental board that appreciates, honours and is designated to support arts and culture in the country
- a body of teachers who are in desperate need of creative and inspiring educational resources
- hundreds of intelligent and energetic artists that are ready to go
- and here’s the kicker- almost 500,000 Swazi bright, creative children who are bursting with potentiality, are urgently needing and requiring empowerment in all areas of their young lives!!
The Deputy Prime Minister, Themba Masuku states:
“It is of paramount importance that children develop, grow and thrive in an enabling, protective and secure environment. The new strategy is to uphold the promotion, protection, and realization of children’s basic rights, and that this notion will be strategically integrated at all levels.”
Here are the hard cold facts as stated in The Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
The statistics for the young child in this country are gut-wrenching and unsettling.
1,018,449 is the population of the country.
52% of the population is younger than 20 years old.
In some areas of the country almost 40% are HIV positive.
There is a thirty-one year life expectancy.
There are 70,000 orphaned children and 60,000 highly vulnerable children in Swaziland.
22 % of children in the country live in a household with both parents.
33 % live without either parent.
The amount of psychosocial support needed to reach each and every child is overwhelming and staggering in all ways. But I know of a way that could bring joy, empowerment and effective pshco-social support for the children of Swaziland. Borrowing from a model that I experienced while being employed for 10 years at The Inner City Angels in Toronto, Canada, the concept is to create an arsenal of trained and certified artists that will rove the country supporting educators and giving these precious and bright Swazi children an opportunity to creatively express themselves. These artists, working along with educators, will provide hundreds of opportunities to grow and develop physically, socially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually so that they can facilitate an over all well-being and confidence in each Swazi child. The program would include culturally relevant art experiences, information sharing, dialogue activities, creative expression, experiences and innovation in all cultural and art modalities.
The Bottom Line:
These children are the most powerful asset in the country! Imagine if these assets were cultivated, honoured and revered in their developmental years!? If the young Swazi child is not given the opportunity create, express and creatively share with their community we then are unconsciously ripping and cutting the essential threads of potentiality. Without such a program that empowers the child though the arts we unknowingly are contributing to a frayed and fragmented spirit; especially with the vulnerable and orphaned children of this country.
The main goal of The Big Little Caravan of Joy’s work with children is to instill in them a sense of empowerment through culturally and socially sensitive arts experiences. This includes supporting the development of their self-esteem, helping to build their confidence, and allowing them to find their place in the world and creating a positive relationship with their environment. Empowered children will grow up to change the world!
Let the games BEGIN!
The goal of making this model sustainable in Swaziland is to honour and educate those who care for the children and to provide them with the necessary tools and renewed inspiration to infuse each and every Swazi child with something vital - joyful and creative play!
The Empowered African Child Conference
25 JUNE 2011, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
THOKOZA ANGLICAN CONFERENCE CENTRE, PHOLINJANE ROAD MBABANE, SWAZILAND