Monday, September 27, 2010

News from The Big Little Caravan of Joy!

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 serving a vulnerable and orphaned child’s need. 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 children in 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 spirit. I also know that I am there to simply bear witness to all of their 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 as to get back to our authentic selves the BLCJ’s purpose has the same role too. 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.

Many of my friends have donated time to this cause, big cash and little cash, supplies, kind words, love, student being-ness (which has directly paved the path for me) care, concern, prayers etc. Some of you have danced, sang and acted for this cause, others have showed interest in my where abouts and what abouts.

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 creative 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 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.”

Andrew Moyo, Community Facilitator, Artist:
“We should be inviting organizations and hold more forums of this nature. The Children’s Protection Network, Children’s Consortium or simply we should be going to them. We as artists have lack of resources. Everything goes to UNICEF. We need more recognition for current work in the arts. A children’s festival might be a great idea.”

South Africa

“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.”

Thank you 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:

Summerhill Players
Bedford park Players
Vintage Dancers
Soul Dancers
Little Children at LBHS
Summerhill Community
Turning Pointe Dance Studio (Nicole Garland)
Toronto Sport Social Club
Mary Murphy COSTUMES
Circus Remedy (Anthony Lucero)
The National Ballet SCHOOL of CANADA
The Church of the Messiah, Reverend Tay Moss
Lawrence Park Community Church
Mike Evans, Gail Leger, Kimberly Irwin
Kwasi Dunyo
Amy Sky
Deb and Phil - hosting this event
Giuseppe Condello
Michael Foran
Darren Shearer
Sheila Philcox
Anne Bancroft
Pierre and Felicity Bannister
Laurence Acland
Bojan Vitko and Shari Morandin
Mark Greenspan
Sarah Ferris
Ruth and Tony Condello
Liana Condello

Big THANKS to the following
Randi Kirshenbaum
George and Kathy Dembroski
Nicholas Mamba
Trudy and George
Kevin Sullivan
Kristi Herrold
Damarise St. Marie (you went far beyond your call of duty girl!)
Tully McLouglin
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
Volunteers: 3
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!

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