In a group of small villages in Laos, just a few miles from the Thai border, young people are finding their voice and educating their communities through drama.
Poverty has been the experience of generations in these villages – struggling for food, education, clean water and work. In addition, being close to the border makes them prime targets for traffickers providing manual labour and fuelling the sex tourism industry in Thailand.
Tearfund partner, World Concern, has been assisting villagers to address their needs and to create awareness around the issues they face. A group of young people has been instrumental in this, creating skits and performing in schools and other key community meeting places.
After a few days training, the group wrote their own script and developed a powerful drama. It highlights the risks of trafficking, drugs and HIV.
The drama is creating a buzz among local communities and is really helping to get the life-saving messages out there. Of the people surveyed, 80 per cent were able to correctly answer questions related to HIV transmission, safe migration and drug use a month after seeing the drama.
As Kannitha* (18) and the rest of the group take a break from performing, she smiles and says, ‘I was very shy and always quiet, but now I’m more confident and talkative.’
Kannitha became a youth volunteer because she wanted to build new friendships and learn new things.
As well as the drama skills, the young people are being given the tools to identify issues preventing their villages from developing. Through this, they have gained skills in interviewing, documenting and evaluating.
The aim is to enable young people to understand the needs their people have, appreciate their own local communities and become actively involved in combatting poverty within those communities.
A new generation of leaders
Not only has Kannitha developed a wide range of skills but she has gained a voice and become a leader in her community.
‘We believe that by investing in youth we are helping to build future leaders and stronger villages,’ says a World Concern representative. ‘We are giving them opportunities to lead and be village role models. The youth group now has a seat at the village planning meetings – a breakthrough in a culture where age and social hierarchy are highly valued.’
Tearfund and World Concern are committed to developing young people as part of extending hope and opportunity to these village communities.
* name changed to protect identity
- Praise God for Kannitha and other young people in Laos who are eager to learn and dream of change for their communities. Pray that they will be encouraged.
- Pray for breakthroughs in tackling the ongoing challenge of trafficking. Pray that the drama group can get its message out to many more people.
- Pray for the ongoing transformation of these village communities. Pray for opportunities for people to earn a living and provide for their families.