Dec 22, 2020

And Away We Go!

Zamumtima Sizawekha means ‘If you have a burden, you do not have to carry it on your own' in Malawi's Chichewa language. Mental health issues have been described as a 'Shadow Pandemic' to Covid-19. Thus, we started out the project working with the students on the ground on mental health stigma and they came up with some interesting ideas. We have additionally been raising awareness online, showing how art can be used to tackle mental health issues. In this report, we look at these things.

We began with an online event that looked at art and mental health. This event brought together artists from Malawi and around the world to open the conversation about mental health and stigma. It was part of ArtGlo's week to #Act4SDGs celebrations and launched the new Zamumtima Sizawekha project.

Featured artists included: Phindu Zaie, Amanda Shea, Watipaso Nungu, Kas, Chim Chisiza, Menes La Plume, Tigris, Hlekwa, That Guy & Malika

The event was for free and was streamed on Facebook Live and HowlRound. Links at the end of the report. It is also still available on both links. It has racked up 677 views on Facebook

From there continued to gather momentum with the recruitment of students from different programs of study at Chancellor College. They came from in different years of study and different ages. The project brought them together allowing for the sharing of information from different disciplines and backgrounds around mental health stigma. It was a rigorous selection process, with both written applications and formal interviews with potential applications, until 21 students were selected. They underwent 3 trainings that helped shape their projects.

Training one focused on building up their capacity in mental health and helping them plan how they can learn from the community. The session two days were filled with interactive sessions that explored issues around mental health stigma, participatory arts and design thinking. One session looked into the pressures that society builds, that lead to mental health stigma. The session highlighted how issues to identity, toxic masculinity and gender stereotypes lead to isolation and mental health stigma. They also got to learn from a clinical phycologist and researcher who dove into mental health in technical detail. By the end of the training, they had come up with research questions to ask the local community youth around mental health and how stigma manifests itself.

They next got to learn from the community and were able to emersed themselves and interview community members and learn about some of the factors that lead to mental health stigma. They found that a lot of people were anxious to talk about mental health, others noticed that male respondents seemed more interested than female ones and that most people know where to access counselling services but choose not to go. One major factor was language as a barrier. The native language Chichewa does not have direct words for all types of mental health issues, which leads to misunderstanding and people being unable to express themselves fully.

They came back together and learning how to refine their ideas and start piecing together their project ideas. They formed teams and, post the training, got to collaborate to come up with project ideas to tackle the issues that they found. Some of the issues they found include; a large knowledge gap when it comes to mental health issues, belief in misconceptions and a general unwillingness of people to open up about their issues to others and even counsellors. Osaphweketsa Madando. Osaphweketsa Madando, would like to create small clubs and have 30 youth from the community learn about and practice forum theatre. Their research highlighted that certain groups of people are either not sure or believe in misconceptions that are to do with mental health.

The collaborative experience has given rise to three groups of vibrant young people with catchy project names, a clear vision and mission for their projects and a rejuvenated passion to do something about mental health stigma in their community using Human-Centred Design and participatory arts. We are excited to see what happens next with their ideas in the new year.

We ended the year with one more collaborative event during the Hamwe festival. Hamwe Festival is an annual event that celebrates and encourages the contributions of creative industries in the global health field. It is a collaboration between global health professionals and creatives. This year the festival's theme is on Social Justice and Mental Health. ArtGlo's session was being led by Lekodi Magombo joined by psychologist Tilinao Lamba and artists Nyocase and Phindu Banda, diving into how art relates to tackling mental health stigma and how the project is doing so in the community. All festival sessions were streamed online (included a link below). It is currently standing at 5,438 views on YouTube.

We look forward to what happens next year!

Lauch Event
Lauch Event

Links:

Dec 8, 2020

Let's talk about sexual health

Youth organisation reps at training
Youth organisation reps at training

The past few months we’ve been working with Youth-Focused Organisations (YFOs) in Zomba district to promote Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (ASRHR) and HIV and AIDS awareness. Though schools and colleges were closed for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, youth organisations continued to engage people in their communities.

Having trained representatives of 8 youth organisations in using Human Centred Design (HCD) and participatory arts approached to tackle ASRHR challenges in their communities, we are excited to see how the organisations have designed their projects and even more excited to see the varied interventions that they are coming up with.

It all started with Anxious Youth Organisation (AYO) whose project is being implemented in the area of T/A Malemia in Zomba. It was so exciting to see AYO use participatory methods to promote use of family planning methods in the area. “It is great to see AYO promote use of family planning methods among adolescents in this area, there are a lot of girls who have dropped out of school due to unplanned pregnancies so this will help” said the chief in her remarks on the project.

As they say lessons learnt are nothing if not put into use, AYO tailored their activity around various participatory arts approaches. Using the concept of HCD, they performed art forms common to the people. They did chioda, a local dance to get people into the grove and then through comedy they did a condom demonstration and lastly the main meal- forum theatre. They said that forum theatre provided for a safe space to talk ASRHR which is why they used it and it didn’t disappoint because the audience opened up and discussed possible solutions to the influx in teen pregnancies.

They took us through a journey of a mother who is offended that a fellow woman was telling her daughter about family planning. To her this was an encouragement for the daughter to be sleeping around. It was great how they got the audience through participatory arts to address various challenges that adolescents face in the quest for family planning and various barriers to accessing valuable information like that around mental health.

Can young people freely and honestly discuss SRHR with their parents? For CEPERAM through their research they found out that it is not easy for parents and kids in areas of Mingu, Mindano and Thom Allan in Zomba to discuss SRHR. So, they have embarked on a project to encourage open and honest conversations between parents and their children around ASRHR. On their first community awareness campaign CEPERAM used various participatory art forms too. Their cultural troop performed cultural songs. Through forum theatre, they addressed misconceptions around sex and they made a fun but educative demonstration on proper condom use.

Apart from advocating for open conversations between parents and Children, CEPERAM also facilitated the community to identify peer educators in their target community who they will train and equip with the right ASRHR knowledge which they will eventually be using to educate fellow youths in their respective areas.

Looking back at these interventions that these YFO’s are doing we are excited about two things. How they are using participatory arts approaches in all ways possible and how through HCD they are able to understand that they are not there to provide solutions but rather to facilitate people to generate solutions to issues they face in the community.

Using traditional dance in community engagement
Using traditional dance in community engagement
Dec 3, 2020

A Blast Form The Past

This past reporting period we look back at the achievements of the students with dreams programme, with the coming of our impact evaluation. We are so excited to soon share the findings of our long-term impact evaluation for SWD. The Evaluation sheds light on how the programme has affected the lives of our alumni. Below is a brief look at some of the results of the evaluation:

Overall the programme has positively supported and helped the alumni in developing their leadership skills and in their professional development.

94% of interviewed alumni think the program positively influenced their professional development.

97% of interviewed alumni have used the skills they gained in the programme beyond SWD.

82% of interviewed alumni say that SWD has opened up opportunities for them.

One alumni said, “…I think [SWD] set me up to proceed, like a base, like a foundation” (Team Build It). We also found that the programme has helped alumni apply for and get some opportunities as a result.

“I was able to apply for a grant because of affiliation with SWD and World Connect and SWD made it easier to apply…” (Green Dance)

The report will come out soon and will be available on our website so look out for it there (link below). It looks deep into the programme, showing statistical finding and stories. We look forward to sharing the full report.

Links:

 
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