I am delighted to welcome Montserrat Gili, someone who became a very good friend of mine through working together on quite a few performance and educational projects. Montse has always tackled those difficult projects I could never be part of myself and so, it is without hesitation that I am giving her this space to tell you about her latest venture.
By the age of 8 most children in the UK have been to see at least one if not more, Christmas shows with their schools or their family. Have you seen how their faces light up? How they engage with the hero or heroine of the story? How they sing along? How they clap, laugh, shout…? Numerous studies show us how the arts have a positive impact on children’s development so I am not going to bore you with the importance of that because you probably already know it…
I am a theatre practitioner and I have been leading workshops for many years in many different settings, including working with NEET young people (at risk of exclusion), young people with autism, etc so I KNOW how participating in the arts can help a young person… To improve their confidence, their empathy, their relationship with themselves and others, their leadership skills, etc, etc.
What I do want to talk to you about is a project that is different because as well as all the above, it can also help young children who live in the streets to find other options and eventually leave the streets.
This project will take place in Zambia, where there is a charity called Barefeet which works with children at risk of becoming disengaged from their communities. Barefeet helps children who are living on the streets or at risk of becoming street children to transform their lives.
Those former street children are now professional performers at Barefeet and are a shining example of how arts can change your life.
The Christmas show is a recurring event that brings a bit of magic to the Christmas of street children in Lusaka. Not only do we give them a spectacular show and a present from Santa, we also bring them into contact with different orphanages and former street children. Those former street children are now professional performers at Barefeet and are a shining example of how arts can change your life.
I will be going to Zambia at the beginning of November to direct a Christmas theatre show for street kids. For most of them it will be their first experience with live theatre, but they will also have the opportunity to take part in workshops with the performers, they will receive a little gift, food and they will be put in touch with organisations that can give them options to leave the streets.
So as I said, a worthy project, but of course, we are still raising funds to help this happen.
Please help us in any way you can, even if you can’t give at the moment, please help us by passing this along to your network of friends, family or colleagues. The more distribution the better, especially since we don’t have that much time to raise the funds.
Thank you so much in advance!