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Awarded Talents

Awarded Talents

What is nicer than breaking monotony during events, trainings or community outreaches and additionally communicating creatively and vividly to an audience to bring a message home? Education through entertainment, that’s the powerful formula of edutainment and the mission of the Kesho Edutainment Youth Group. Through their skits, edutainment group cackles up their spectators, entertain them — and also give them a serious message to take home.

Creating employment opportunities

Edutainment group photo

The theatre group was revived in 2018 and it is under the Youth Development program at Kesho Kenya. “We could kill two birds with one stone”, says programme officer Lilian Mbula. Kesho sought to empower and support talented youth to gain theatre skills hence create employment opportunities. Additionally, through the edutainment performances, Kesho Kenya, its programs and projects as well as other organisations or institutions can reach out to communities on sensitive issues in an entertaining way. “Thanks to our network, we can get gigs for the Edutainment Youth Group. When members go and perform in communities or at events, we facilitate their transport and offer them a small stipend.” Moreover, they get trainings, e.g. on perfecting their skills or conflict resolution. “Thus the members can avoid issues with one another leading to conflict.”

Spreading the wings

Edutainment Youth Group, barely one-year-old, is on the way to spreading its wings to becoming independent. It all started with the group’s participation and success in the “Youth Extravaganza” talent festival in August 2018 in Malindi. The team emerged position three in a skit they performed. “We didn’t expect to win an award in this competition,” said Samuel Garama, the leader of the group. It was their confidence, creativity, humour and how they owned up to their respective characters which convinced the adjudicators.

Performances during local and national events

Edutainment advert

Currently, Edutainment Youth Group is known beyond Kilifi town. Its members have performed locally and nationally. Through their work, they transform and enlighten societies on the emerging social and environmental issues, e.g. teenage pregnancy, positive parenting, commercial sexual exploitation of children or countering violent extremism in communities. At present, the group has 12 members of different age and background working together to develop, write and perform their skits and songs

Their humour makes people cackle up

What’s their recipe for a successful skit? “We combine action research and participatory theatre to sensitise and educate communities”, says Samuel Garama. The team starts on a piece by choosing a topic based on real issues affecting the community. Then they draw a story of a cast which summarises the situation in all aspects. “Everyone is given a specific character, and each of us embody it with his or her own words. To create humour, we exaggerate action and movements and make funny comments. People cackle up while we pass powerful transformational messages through spoken word, songs, poetry and plays.”

“Fulfilling, fun and contributing”

Performing a skit

Why does the team like edutainment? “Very simple, using art to educate is fulfilling, fun and contributing to our own, other people’s and communities’ growth and development”, explains Samuel Garama.  “Through performing in front of crowds, we have gained lots of confidence. Furthermore, it has helped us to explore and discover our hidden talents. It’s a chance to interact with different personalities and explore new places.”

Edutainment Youth Group uses theatre as an interactive tool to identify and channel information from communities to government, development organizations, and other decision-making bodies. Their skits ignite debates within communities and amongst stakeholders in the area.

High Hopes for Asma

High Hopes for Asma

Asma H. comes from a small town “where girls are only taught to cook for their husbands”, as she says. The 18-year old girl is a bit shy but knows exactly what she wants. While most of her age mates at home are married or have at least two or three children, she is determined to pursue the path of education. “I want to excel despite where I come from”, Asma explains. “I want people to know that a rural girl in a marginalised area can do it.”

Winner of the Brookside “Mathlete” regional contest

Asma’s success is so amazing that in July 2019, the Daily Nation newspaper dedicated its entire page 3 to feature her. Her outstanding achievement: Scoring an A of 90 percent, Asma emerged as the regional winner of the prestigious Brookside “Mathlete” regional contest at Ribe Boys High School. She beat over 2,000 other bright students from the Coast region who participated. “I was overjoyed. I did not expect to win as the exam was very hard, and then suddenly, I heard them calling my name.” Prisca Mgute, her school’s principal praises the teenager and has high hopes for her. “She has proven that your background and problems do not determine your future.”

“I didn’t want to lose my brightest student”

Asma’s story on Daily Nation

Two years ago, in 2017, Asma’s fate hit a hard rock and was about to take a negative turn. Her uncle who supported her financially was no longer able to pay the school fees of more than 50,000 KSH to keep her in Bahari Girls, a national secondary school. What had he to do? There were not many options: a transfer to a cheaper county school, finding a sponsor or terminating the education of the girl. The uncle wanted to transfer the girl to a local day school in Malindi.

“I was born in Malindi and did not want to go back to study there and interact with my community members who do not value education”, Asma says. “Furthermore, day schools have temptations and limit one’s study time.” But fortunately, Asma’s class teacher Dennis Pundo intervened. “I did not want to lose one of my brightest students”, he says. “She has so much potential, the ability to perform and can achieve so much in future. She just needs extra support.”

 

Kesho Kenya stepped in

The principal and board members of Bahari came together and raised school fees.  That’s how Asma found her way into Kesho Kenya. When her teachers realised that Asma’s family was not financially able to keep her in the national boarding school for long, Asma was recommended to visit the NGO in Kilifi and ask for sponsorship. Lucky for her she was admitted. “Kesho Kenya came to my rescue just at the point of need”, Asma says. She is currently in form four, at the end of 2019 she will sit for her KCSE exam, and she hopes to pass with flying colours. “To date, Asma performance has been impeccable”, says Lilian Mbula. “At our last Kesho Kenya prize-giving day, she scooped almost all presents. Her discipline is commendable too.”

Grateful for quality education

Meanwhile, Asma has a scholarship from Brookside which allows her to pursue a diploma course of her choice. Immediately after KCSE, she can enrol to Strathmore University in Nairobi, one of the best institutions in the country. “I am very much interested in construction, be it architecture, engineering or something else”, Asma says. She thinks she would not be where she is without Kesho Kenya’s support. “If it was not you, I would be in a local school and not enjoying the privileges here and quality education I have access to.”