Educate to Lead: Nepal and Harambee Arts – Supporting vulnerable girls through Expressive Arts

Founded in Kenya in 2007, Harambee Arts is a pioneer in the development and delivery of a toolkit of psychosocial activities, working to transform and improve the lives of women and children suffering the devastating psychosocial impact of human trafficking, poverty, war, violence and illness. Partnering with grassroots programmes and educational agencies around the world to train educators, caregivers and future trainers in providing Expressive Arts programmes, the organisation works to heal trauma and foster a sense of joy, creativity and exuberance. Using visual arts, dance, storytelling, street theatre, meditation and music, Harambee Arts seeks to alleviate the effects of trauma on the hearts and minds of children and women; transforming numbness into well-being, powerlessness into action.

Image: Expressive Arts programmes work to heal trauma and foster a sense of joy, creativity and exuberance

Harambee Arts began providing programming in Nepal in 2011, and it is here that the International President’s Appeal is to support Harambee’s work. Primary beneficiaries of Harambee Arts programming in Nepal are women and girls who have survived, or are at risk of human trafficking.

Since 2011, Harambee Arts Nepal has partnered with Shakti Samuha in Kathmandu to provide outreach to girls in remote districts, including expressive arts therapy and personal empowerment seminars for girls at risk and survivors of trafficking and their technical support staff, who work with the girls in the safe houses. Train the Trainer workshops are also delivered, where survivors become fully accredited to lead workshops.

Image: Expressive Arts in action

The President’s Appeal is funding a team of seven trainers who travel throughout the country to support and educate vulnerable girls and women through Expressive Arts exercises.  The affected women and girls, made vulnerable by their life circumstances, and even more vulnerable as a result of the earthquake of 2015, are those in serious danger of trafficking.

The funding will also provide twenty-six Expressive Arts workshops over a period of fourteen months, and it is estimated that the project will directly benefit 312 women and girls. This new initiative is the vision of the seven Nepali women who work and train together in Expressive Arts Therapy with the support of Harambee Arts. In addition to offering workshops throughout Nepal, they will additionally lead two or more workshops monthly, targeting girls in a slum area of Kathmandu, and girls who are employed in the entertainment sector. Most of these girls have moved from remote areas to the city. After six months, fourteen of the girls (seven from each sector) will be invited to undergo further intensive training to become certified as Harambee Arts Nepal facilitators and a portion of the funding will go towards the train-the-trainer programme provided for these fourteen girls.

Image: Sarala (second right) and group of girls enjoying a workshop. “Transforming numbness into well-being, powerlessness into action”

Sarala Tamang, Nepal Programme Team Leader, is a trained social worker, Expressive Arts Facilitator, and Project Officer for Shakti Samuha. Sarala says: “Four years ago I couldn’t have dreamed of this team that we have created with so much affection, strength, courage, friendship and love. And it’s all because of Harambee Arts and the support from Soroptimist International. We are enormously grateful for the Soroptimist Grant. It is providing an avenue for trafficking survivors to grow, feel their strength and to make a difference in their community”.

Chair of the President’s Appeal 2015-2017, Sharon Fisher says: “If you have been rescued from a violent situation, healing must happen before you can successfully learn.  This is something we realized when awarding grants.  This programme does just that and prepares women and girls to be successful with their education.  It is never too late to learn!” 

All pictures courtesy of Harambee Arts and Shakti Samuha

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