It’s been a while. But that doesn’t mean we have been standing still – take, for example, my colleagues from dance4life Netherlands, who are, as I write, on a project trip to Kenya and Malawi, together with dance4life ambassador and DJ Barry Paf. Also on the trip are two young people, Sanne and Eline, who did some amazing fundraising for dance4life and are now privileged enough to see with their own eyes how their money is being spent!
Director of dance4life Netherlands, Anouk, gave me this update of the trip so far…
“We started out with ten people at Schiphol airport on Sunday morning. Most important travellers being Eline and Sanne, students from Groningen and Hellevoetssluis and Barry Paf, one of the Dutch ambassadors. All excited and some of us with just a few hours sleep (Barry!)…. anxious to get going. In Nairobi we met up with Jet, who will be staying in Nairobi for two months to research possibilities to have a Sensation edition in Kenya. It was already pitch dark when we arrived in Nairobi, so no clue about the scenery till the next morning. After a short night we left early for our ‘one day programme’ with dance4life Kenya. During our half our trip to the school we drove by Kibera slum, one of the biggest in Nairobi. Incredible scenery, unimaginable for us to realise that 200,000 people are actually living here… Edwin, one of the dance4life staff in Kenya, explained that in these slums the risk to get HIV infected is obviously very high.
Arriving at the Nile Road Secondary school, although it is holiday time, at least twenty agents4change were already waiting for us. The amount kept growing and within half an hour more nearly 50 young people had arrived. After some hilarious icebreaking games, pretending we were attacked by lions or crocodiles, it was time for some serious sharing. Representatives of 4 schools prepared a welcome song, dance or play to introduce themselves and their culture. We were all moved by a poem about AIDS and its devastating impact on life in Kenya… We could definitely improve our Dutch introduction skills here and prepare a more creative way to introduce some of our cultural values! But, we do have the drill!! And what a blast it was to do it together with the Kenyan agents4change!
One thing that is so amazing is the fact that all Kenyan agents4change are so extremely proud of being an agent4change and they all take it really seriously!
During the day we had group sessions and talked about youth related issues and about the meaning and impact of being part of dance4life. One that came up a lot was the fact that Kenyan youngsters just don’t talk about sex with their parents, and if parents happen to find a condom in your possession it’s very likely that you will be punished severely. A clear no go area. It was hopeful though, that lots of youngsters do get some information about reproductive health and rights in schools. But still, going back to their communities, it is a big taboo. A huge step forward was the revelation that youngsters who went through the dance4life programme felt the need to confront their parents with what they have learned and in a way ‘educate’ them. Isn’t that courageous and great! During these conversations, more and more youngsters opened up and felt free and respected to share personal thoughts and stories. After a long, hot and intense day of dancing and talking, sharing and hugging we said our goodbyes to at least 45 new Facebook friends! Some of these friends still had to walk 20 kilometers home so they could save the small amount of money they received for their transport to spend it on more basic needs. Can you imagine walking 40 kilometers a day to get educated?
I am in the plane to Malawi now. We left Jet behind and met up with a STOP AIDS NOW! colleague and fundraiser Marjon. Looking forward to this new experience. Till soon…
PS. Check out the blogs of Sanne and Eline, on: sannedance4life.waarbenjij.nu & elineaardse.waarbenjij.nu (in dutch)
And, for more photo’s go to facebook !!