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Using Theater for Youth Conflict Prevention in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

Posted on April 13, 2012

Youth Theater for Peace (YTP), a project funded by USAID, is helping youth in rural, conflict-prone areas of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan use theater to learn conflict prevention and resolution. The program uses a methodology called Drama for Conflict Transformation (DCT) to establish trust through theater games and teach participants how to write and perform plays about issues in their communities. YTP uses summer camps to get diverse groups to interact and work together in a country to combat ethnic tensions and gender based violence. The plays put on by YTP groups address issues such as intra-familial violence, early marriage and lack of access to education for girls.

One girl’s story, highlighted on IREX’s blog and in this video, shows the ability of the program to empower youths to make positive change in their communities. Faroiz came to a YTP camp at the end of ninth grade, with the intention of leaving school and getting married soon after the camp. She and other participants developed a play about child marriage in the region. The year after the play was shown in her community, the number of girls enrolled in tenth grade jumped from zero to 20. Working on the play also helped her gain the courage to ask her parents to allow her to return to school and delay her marriage until she was at least 18, which they did.

Theater is a powerful tool for education. On April 19, the Schubert Center, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services will host Sometimes Hope is Enough, an original play developed by Cleveland’s Karamu House about three adolescent siblings “aging out” of the foster care system. After the performance, a panel of experts from Case and the community will discuss the research, practice and policy implications of the issues portrayed in the play.

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