Young Somalis continue to run youth clubs and work with Drama For Conflict Transformation to try to foster peace and tolerance in the refugee camps of Dadaab, Kenya, and in the Nairobi slum of Eastleigh even though our project has now ended. The “Theatre for Peace” project was funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and formally ended at the end of September 2011. The youths though are continuing their work on a voluntary basis, using the methods and techniques they’ve learned during the 12 month project. Their efforts are a demonstration of their courage and commitment given the particularly harsh current conditions caused by the ongoing drought and famine and the wave of bombings and kidnappings, and escalated conflict in the region. The wave of kidnappings of tourists and aid workers in Kenya has prompted Kenya to send forces into Somalia to push back Al Shabab militants from near its borders. There have been a series of bombings in Kenya as a result. The drought has caused over 190,000 Somalis to arrive in Dadaab this year alone, causing the world’s largest refugee camps to swell to over 463,00 refugees. The involvement of Kenyan forces inside Somalia has increased security issues and tensions for both humanitarian workers and refugees in the camps. Despite this situation, Theatre for Peace Youth Drama Clubs in Hagadera continue to operate, with trainers and young people organising four additional ‘Youth Drama Clubs’ in October alone.
The 12-month Theatre for Peace project targeted youth in the suburb of Eastleigh, Nairobi, and in the refugee camp of Hagadera in Dadaab, using a Drama for Conflict Transformation (DCT) curriculum that IREX Europe developed for Somali communities. The curriculum, translated into Somali, has been used in a series of trainings to create teams of adult Somali DCT specialists, who then ran theatre workshops with youth. At the workshops, youth participants were taken through a unique experience where they have fun, develop strong bonds and openly talk about their (often traumatic) life stories. They learn to work in harmony regardless of gender or clan, and to identify the problems they face and develop skills to think through potential solutions on three levels of responsibility: family, community and government. At the beginning, responses to potential conflict situations would often elicit “We should shoot them” “They should be bombed” responses. By the final performances, youth were offering solutions seeking collective responsibility. Following the training, a series of small grants were provided for youth to organise their own theatre shows, which reached another 470 youth in Eastleigh and Hagadera.
In December 2010, as a direct consequence of the project activities, adult trainers in Eastleigh created their own community group (IMPACT CBO) seeking to use DCT to create a safe space for meetings between the Somali refugee community and the Kenyan government. The group was organized as a consequence of the raids in Eastleigh instigated by the Kenyan government during the month of December. The group closely examined the root causes of the raids which they identified as a Kenyan government/Kenyan police fear of Al Shabab, and set-up the CBO in order to organise debates about problems faced by the Somali population in Eastleigh and to identify peaceful solutions. IMPACT CBO has already received donor funding to organise more of these community events due to their success and also continues to operate post-project.
The 4 youth drama clubs in Eastleigh and 8 youth drama clubs in Hagadera established during the project also continue in their work now that the project has ended. Youth meet regularly to carry out theatre workshops and continue dialogues about community issues, seeking to promote peace and understanding in an environment sadly mired in conflict.
’Play about human trafficking’
’Play about FGM’
’Audience in Hagadera Community Hall, Dadaab’
’Play about human trafficking’