Three young women have found a new way to spread the message about teenage pregnancy, HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual rights through being members of the EU funded Stages of Change theatre company.
Susan Galutia, Janet Nowue and Daisy Teho are Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA) volunteers who joined the theatre company six months ago.
The women have the full support of SIPPA to now take their new theatre skills into their youth outreach work.
The Stages of Change project uses theatre to celebrate women and to discuss violence against women and children and its impacts on the community.
British Council NZ Country Director, Ingrid Leary, says that working with SIPPA and having their support has been key in giving the project strength not only in the work Stages of Change does but also in spreading the work into a wider community.
The EU and the British High Commission Solomon Islands fund Stages of Change. The project is delivered by the British Council NZ and NZ theatre company, The Conch, and is partnered by SIPPA.
Susan Galutia, from Makira and Choiseul provinces, wants to help other young people know about teenage pregnancy and sexually transmittable diseases (STD’s).
“I have teenage friends who gave me the heart to tell other teenagers about STD’s and teenage pregnancy, but I thought – I don’t know how to do that. There are cultural barriers that say women can’t stand out, but on the stage you can talk about subjects that are normally taboo.”
Janet Nowue, from Malaita province, and Daisy Teho, from Renbel province, believe that using their theatre skills will enable them to reach a wide audience with their work.
“We want to use drama in our work because people are better at seeing things rather than getting too much information through talking.
“Many people we are working with have not gone to school so drama is way they can understand and enjoy the teaching.”
Michael Salini, Executive Director Solomon Island Planned Parenting Association, has fully supported the women’s participation in the Stages of Change and plans to use drama to deliver SIPPAs programmes.
Mr Salini initially thought the women would find it hard to express themselves on stage.
“I was surprised, young girls going into the theatre and then coming out like that, full of confidence; they wouldn’t have done that before going to Stages of Change.”
Mr Salini says that Stages of Change theatre is a breakthrough for the country and that there is excitement around the project.
“We are planning to use the theatre for awareness raising about HIV, family planning, sexual and reproductive health and sexual rights,” he said.
SIPPA’s sexual rights work is carried out with women and men, women have the right to decide how many children they have, they have the right to enjoy sexual relationship and have the right to decide when to have sex.
This work also involves awareness raising with men.
Tewodros Melesse, Director General International Planned Parenthood Federation, saw Stages of Change perform last week in Honiara at a dinner hosted by SIPPA.
Mr Melesse said the performance showed a transformation in the women and the power of working together to overcoming challenges and create change.
“It is a very powerful thing, not only what has been invested by SIPPA and others but also a powerful thing for the women,” he said.
“It shows that collectively and individually you can come out of challenges. It shows that you can’t work in isolation, but that we can come together as a group and together can make a difference.
“It shows – all is not lost, you can make a difference – these are champions of change. This theatre is setting the pace.”
Eoghan Walsh, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Solomon Islands, said there is a buzz in town about the Stages of Change theatre company.
Mr Walsh found last week’s free public performance at the National Auditorium ‘Powerful and moving’;
“Supporting the establishment of a National Theatre Company would build on the success of the success of Stages of Change. The Solomons now has the infrastructure to support this.”
By KAREN ABPLANALP
- Karen Abplanalp visited Honiara with the British Council NZ and the support of the British High Commission NZ.