Uganda has had a number of successful community dance and empowerment programs to support youth:
- Dance, Art, Capoeira and Yoga
- Advocacy of Children's Rights
- Youth Off the Street
- Dance/Yoga Studio Space-Niteo Resource Centre
- Youth Performing Group, Ntinda
- Youth Empowerment in the Kisenyi Slum
- Transition Education for Former Street Children at the Niteo Resource Centre
Dance, Art, Capoeira and Yoga:
For one week, free dance classes were provided at the city's National Theatre, the Eva Ruf Resource Centre in Ntinda, and the Jesus Warship Centre in Natetee. One hundred and fifty local dancers aged 8-22 had the opportunity receive this free training. Local teachers taught African Contemporary, Traditional Ugandan and Breakdance styles. Jazz, Hip Hop, Jamaican Dancehall and African dance disciplines were taught by Jess Dexter, InnovativeCommunities.Org Foundation's Uganda initiatives facilitator.
Transportation was either provided, subsidized or paid for and lunch and water were available. The Bitone Children's Home and Performance Troupe, Ntinda community youth, Cornerstone Development Ntinda, Kibuli and Bukesa Homes received free classes in Traditional Ugandan Dance, Jazz, Hip Hop, Breakdance, Yoga, Capoeira and Art. Art was taught by local professional Joseph Bukenya. Members of The Ndere Dance Company shared their passion for traditional Ugandan song and dance. A free weekly Hip Hop class taught by Breakdance Project Uganda's Professional Teachers Davis and Mark began in June 2009 and continues still.
The dance camp's objective was to facilitate the skill development of 8 diverse dance techniques, as well as foster confidence, social engagement and inspiration in the participating youth. A nourishing and challenging environment was expected to empower, uplift and strengthen the individual as well as group as a whole.
Traditional Ugandan dance class taught by Ndere Dance Company members.
Dates: January 16th-February 2nd, 2009
Advocacy of Children's Rights:
Twenty-six children age 8-17 were being physically abused, sexually harassed, neglected and undernourished in an illegal orphanage. In an attempt to relieve the worsening situation, the kids were invited to a resource center for the weekend and were uplifted by dance classes and dance shows. Once in safety, the kids expressed their utmost fear and loathing to go back to the man that was directing the orphanage. Taking a stand for the rights of the children, a police report was made and the weekend turned into 15 days of dance classes, 3 hearty meals a day and medical attention in the new-found refuge for 32 people at the Niteo Resource Centre in Ntinda, Uganda until a new home was found. A documentary has been made capturing the essence of dance and empowerment in this real story. During their 15-day stay, the children were able to go to Breakdance Project Uganda's Hip Hop For Society Show-social conscious dance and music, as well as the Ndere Dance Troupe interactive performance. Swimming, playing, lunch and ice cream at Efendy's Turkish Restaurant in Kampala was provided by the owner of the Restaurant on 3 occasions.
Relief, justice and empowerment for 26 children living at Kinship Orphanage was an imperative and immediate expected outcome, as their health and safety was in danger.
Above:Boys from Kinship Orphanage take a break from swimming
Dates: February 28th-April 15th, 2009
Youth Off the Street:
One 12-year old male youth who, at the time, lived on the street and in Uganda's largest slum "Kisenyi," was invited to watch a dance show in lieu of giving change, for which he had begged. The next day he participated in a day of fun with children from (formerly Kinship Orphanage) BULA (Better Understanding of Life in Africa), expressing an interest in living a different life off the street. At the time he was addicted to huffing airplane fuel by direct contact to the mouth and nose via cotton material. Two days later he was accepted to live under 24-hour supervision at the Niteo Africa Resource Centre as a transitionary step in his life. There he was fed 3 meals per day and received necessary treatment from the KEEN Medical Centre and recovered from his addiction. He also partook in a dance rehearsal with the Bitone Childrens' Performance Troupe, went to Breakdance classes, a contemporary dance show, and swimming at various pools. During the 6 weeks that he lived at the centre, he was interviewed by various mentors from Cornerstone Development so that he could live in a permanent home. He was accepted to live in the Bukesa Boys Home. As he was not in school yet, he would walk and take shared taxis to the resource centre where he would learn at his own pace and be provided with lunch. Two weeks after the beginning of his newfound life, his experience traveling back into the Ghetto of Kisenyi to collect his few personal items was documented by Twist Kanyike on HD Video. On an attempt to locate Hakim's best friend, an invitation was made to several Kisenyi youth to receive free education at the Niteo Resource Centre. The next day, 4 young men arrived at Niteo after a two and a half hour walk. Hakim made them lunch and they began their self-paced learning. Permission was granted for these 4 youth to live at the centre along with Hakim as a transitionary step in social rehabilitation. 2 weeks later, these 4 youth were accepted into Cornerstone Development's Kibuli Home.
Hakim Myanja, age 12
Several weeks later, as Hakim walked home from the centre, City Council members saw him and forcefully took him to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development Kampiringisa National Rehabilitation Centre for holding. Once Hakim's current situation was made evident by peers, he was rescued from the centre, as the conditions were strife. Once he was located within the rehabilitation centre, it was discovered that his best friend had been incarcerated as well. In order to facilitate change for both of them in the most efficient way, Hakim's best friend Salim was also accepted to live in Cornerstone Development's Kibuli Home.
The expected outcome for taking Hakim into a loving home was that he would feel worthy, healthy, wanted, empowered, and would recover from his substance abuse.
Many youth who have run away from home end up living in Uganda's largest slum "Kisenyi." Three of these youth travelled two hours by foot to the Niteo Resource Centre to receive free education. Samuel is pictured in the plaid shirt.
Dates: March 2009-Currently
Dance/Yoga Studio Space-Niteo Resource Centre:
A 200-square-foot mirrored dance and yoga space was created in the largest room at the Niteo Resource Centre. It has been equipped with 16 yoga mats donated by YYOGA- Canada, as well as an amp, CD-player and speakers donated by a local neighbor. Free Traditional Ugandan dance, break dance, Capoeira, yoga and art classes are held by Uganda's most dedicated professional teachers at the centre with it's new offered classes. Individuals and groups of community members have gathered at the dance studio for rehearsals and free-style practice.
The outcome expected was that some children and youth would be inspired, uplifted and empowered by the arts including dance, singing, yoga and Capoiera. The space created would provide an environment celebration of the arts could take place.
Dates: May 2009-Currently
Youth Performing Group, Ntinda:
A youth performing Troupe has been started with the intention of spreading the arts as a way of self expression, vitality and love. Traditional Ugandan singing, dancing and music are its focus. Some children walk half way then take shared taxis to the rehearsals every Saturday. Four drums, two string instruments, shakers, rafia (grass skirts), and a xylophone have been purchased so far.
The outcome expected was that the use of instruments and the sharing of traditional Ugandan dances and songs would create an interest and value in their culture, as well as a gain in confidence and joy in their learning.
Boys take a rest within their rehearsal
Dates: These initiatives were started by locals and have been operating for some time.
Youth Empowerment in the Kisenyi Slum:
A capoeira class with up to 65 participants is held every Sunday in Uganda's largest slum, Kisenyi was supported by ICO from June until September 2009. This is an initiative designed and implemented by teachers of Capoeira Senzala Uganda. A connection has been made with 2 Kisenyi-local soccer teams, which is uplifting and skill-developing both female and male participants from all ages.
The expected outcome was to uplift participating youth from the daily stress of living on the street, as well as build confidence, strength and body awareness and skill in a nourishing and encouraging environment.
Kisenyi Community Capoeira Class
Transition Education for Former Street Children at the Niteo Resource Centre:
Boys living in a transition home through Cornerstone Development had the opportunity to travel to the Niteo Africa Resource Centre by foot, bicycle and shared taxi to receive tutoring and access to thousands of books and computers. These youth aged 10-19 came from living on the street and are not yet in formal school, but were able to ease into a disciplined learning environment. Up to six boys per day benefited from this initiative from mid April until September, 2009.
The expected outcome was that some of these youth would find interest and value in education and would soon be able to thrive in a formal education setting.
Days after Samuel was invited to live at Niteo as a transition home from the street.