Monday, May 27, 2013

Meeting with the National Cultural Centre

Roya,Katrine, Shazia and Festus at the National Cultural Centre
We recently had the pleasure of meeting with Katrine who is an officer at the Sandema Branch of the National Cultural Centre. We went to speak with her in order to get information and general guidance on whether there are any existing cultural groups, how we go about setting up cultural groups for Persons with Disabilities (PWD’s) for the Feok Festival etc.

The meeting was very interesting and we appreciated how frank she was about the current state of cultural activities in the Builsa District. She spoke about how the District Assembly (the council) doesn’t regard culture with as much importance as they should do. They see it as only being limited to drumming and dancing when in fact it encompasses a range of different elements such as the communities beliefs, traditions etc. This misconception also filters down to the rest of the community.

Trainee weaving the material at the Centre
She will be a valuable source of information for our project as she can supply us with a list of all the registered cultural groups in Sandema who we can then contact and speak to for further information, including how they’ve obtained their instruments as that is a big issue we’ve identified that effects PWD’s. Katrine also hosts free training for fabric weaving, specifically the fabric needed for men’s traditional smocks which may come in useful for our livelihoods program which we are working on, alongside the cultural activities program.                                    

It’s going to be a long process but the work we are doing will eventually lead to PWD’s becoming fully integrated into their communities. The cultural activities program will prove to the community and the PWD’s themselves that they can and should be allowed to celebrate their traditions and history.  As we spoke to various Disabled Peoples Organisation’s (DPO’s) we heard from individuals who felt scared to perform in front of the community because they have been stigmatised and discriminated against for so long, they fear further ridicule. That is why it is important to work on projects like these because it rebuilds their confidence in their own self-efficacy and will allow them to engage in cultural activities, profitable businesses and sports to the same level as able-bodied people. Although we may provide them with the tools they need to support themselves, part of the struggle is them overcoming their lack of faith in their own abilities which has been instilled in them from a young age. Despite this, after the recent meeting with the Sandema DPO and through our discussions about cultural activities, they have since organised a group rehearsal. This is the first organised rehearsal that they have had for many years so it is a positive step in the right direction! 

- Shazia

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