All of a sudden volunteering became something I enjoy doing. I always looked forward to the next opportunity to volunteer and soon came one. It was an entrepreneurship program organized by Junior Achievement (an organization that supports youth empowerment) where the participants of the program would have to form a pilot company and use it to learn business strategies and planning. We called ours Papier Origins and I headed the corporate and social responsibility unit.
This was a perfect opportunity for me because the company and the position I held enabled be meet more people and NGO’s that wouldn’t normally deal with individuals. My unit came up with an idea to partner with an NGO and have our employees volunteer in one of the NGO’s activities. So I meet a representative from Theatre for a Change in an event through a friend and when we got talking it turned out that we both needed each other; I was looking for an NGO for my people to volunteer and he was looking for volunteers to help his NGO on a project.
Theatre for a Change is a UK registered charity organization that uses a unique methodology to advocate prevention of HIV and AIDS in the youth. In their own words, they say “We believe that through active and physical participation in the learning process, young people can: learn communication skills that can protect them from infection, discover their rights to balanced relationships free from abuse and transform their lives and the lives of people around them. ”
At the time they were conducting a program with the youths of Jamestown, Accra-Ghana (Jamestown is like the Ajekunle of Lagos, Soweto of Johannesburg or kibera of Nairobi, Kenya, although in a lighter sense). Their project was to engage the youths in the prevention of HIV and AIDS by making them participate in a drama series of people facing sexual temptation, abuse or rape, how they could easily yield to the temptation, refuse it, fight it, walk away or seek help. They got the youths to act out these roles so that it becomes easier for them to act or decide in real life situations. As they act the rest watch and analyze then after the scene they pause and question why the actors acted the way they did, and look for lessons to be learnt from that scene.
So they rehearse the drama series several times and when they are ready they stage a play for the community to come and watch. I wasn’t sure how effective the methodology was until I tried it out. I remember in one of our (me and other employees from Papier Origins) visits they were rehearsing a scene where a boy was been persuaded by his sugar mummy to have unprotected sex and the boy was to convince her not to have sex or have a protected one. After the scene I volunteered to play the boys part again with my own persuasive methods…I am sure you are curious to know what happened, well I succeeded.
Fortunately, the Government gave them an old community center in Jamestown, where they could rehearse and stage their play. So we volunteered to help them clean up the place and also painted the walls. Already the youth in Jamestown were know for bad things and all sort of atrocities but this avenue gave then an good alternative where they could have fun, transform their lives and the lives of people around them. I’m forever glad I was part of it.