Theatre for Change aims to tackle the problem of HIV/Aids by producing interactive theatre productions which educates communities in Malawi.
The top three groups of people most vulnerable are sex workers, police and teachers.
Shockingly before the project started 2 teachers a day died of HIV/Aids. Nation wide testing suggests that the rate of infection is less than 1% when student teachers start college, but rockets to over 23% when they graduate from college. So Theatre for Change works with teacher training colleges and schools across Malawi to promote safer lifestyles.
I was really interested in the project’s use of radio drama to spread its message. It’s a very effective way to communicate across the country although radios are still hard to come by for many people.
We visited a local bar and saw the appalling conditions where sex workers live, then attended a performance about the real life experiences of a young woman who had ended up as a sex worker. The drama attracted a huge crowd and villagers got involved in a very effective role play which was true to life, credible and clearly enjoyable to the audience.
It’s a real life issue as young girls aged 11 or 12 are being forced into sexual work. They live and work in bars as they have no accommodation having been forcibly moved from their village.
In addition to awareness raising the project provides micro credit schemes to give young women which follow on from training run by the project and distributes condoms and health advice across the country.
The project’s patron is Stephen Fry and has been given great support by Annie Lennox.