Most of us would go out of our way to improve the life of one vulnerable child. Imagine being able to impact the lives of thousands of children in Africa? The Alliance for Uganda Without Orphans (AUWO) was able to do just that. Daniel Kaggwa, AUWO and WWO Africa Regional Ambassador, recently discovered just how effective the trauma-based camps held in Uganda were on both the children and leaders who attended them.
Children from two different schools who had attended the camps decided to attend the feedback meeting, which was held in the town of Mityana, so they could personally demonstrate the effectiveness of the training. Perhaps one of the best ways to start to change a mindset is by presenting a picture of the difference you hope to see and what your current reality is. With this in mind, the children used drama and theater to demonstrate what they had learned.
“We traveled to Mityana to ask participants about the effectiveness of the trauma-based training and we wanted to hear from both the children and the leaders,” said Kaggwa. “We had several goals for the training. We wanted to raise awareness about domestic violence and educate the children so they can recognize the abuse and know that they have rights and can do something about the abuse. The training showed them what to do and where to get help if they are facing abuse of any kind.
We also wanted to address the caretakers of children in our society and equip them with a different approach to parenting and disciplining that is not the cultural norm in Africa. In Africa, it is more common to correct before you connect with your child. Sometimes, the child doesn’t even know why they are getting disciplined.”
The plays not only touched on adoption but also demonstrated what abuse can look like in a parenting model and the impacts of that abuse on the child. The children then acted out what a more positive parenting model looks like and the impact on the child.
One play showed the impact of an abusive father in the house and the negative impact that led to his son dropping out of school. A son who was very intelligent and could have gotten good grades, ended up failing in school due to the trauma in the house. In another play they acted out a different parenting style, where the mother in the same family used positive reinforcement and praise and was able to counterbalance the negative parenting style of her husband. Her approach to parenting, where connecting before correction was utilized, helped her son to stabilize and be able to excel in school, rather than failing.
The play found its mark and as Kaggwa looked around the room, he saw leaders and parents nodding their heads as understanding blossomed. He saw children beaming and proud of their ability to bring their voices and start to be the change they wanted to see in their country.
“For me the biggest success of the training was seeing the impact that it had on the children because they now know they can get help and contact someone if they are experiencing abuse – they are not alone in their suffering anymore,” said Kaggwa. “They are our future. The knowledge they gained is the power they need to bring change.”
See the WWO Safeguarding Policy for ideas on implementing a safeguarding policy in your programs.