Custom Search 1

Kenyan and British kids unite to give refugees a voice

IN PLAY: Children perform on stage

A UNIQUE collaboration between Kenyan and British children will be showcasing a musical dedicated to refuges this weekend.

A cast of 100 young performers aged nine to 17 from Braeburn High School, in Nairobi, Kenya, and Downs Junior School, Brighton, perform together tomorrow to debut Kesho Amahoro, a true story, set in Benaco Refugee Cap in Northern Tanzania during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.

The production, which is part of the International Youth Arts Festival, is written by British-born teachers Anna Rusbatch and Lizzie Jago, who founded the Chicken Knitters Theatre Company in 2009 while living and working in Nairobi.

Rusbatch said: “Lizzie wrote the script based on her own personal experiences of working for an NGO in the Rwandese refugee camps in northern Tanzania in 1994-95. She described a scene to me in detail and I went away to write accompanying music and lyrics."

The show debuted in Nairobi in 2010 and the response was "overwhelmingly positive." This encouraged the teachers to "keep Kesho Amahoro alive.”

Rusbatch who now lives and teaches in Brighton, and Jago who remained in Nairobi with her family, decided to approach The International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston, southwest London.

She added: “We had a tour of the Rose Theatre and hatched a plan to use a large cast of children from both schools. I started rehearsals with 63 children at Downs Junior School in January 2013. Later in the year I travelled to Nairobi to rehearse with the Braeburn School children in Kenya.”

The parents of the children in Brighton hosted the Kenyan children for five days.

Speaking about Chicken Knitters, Rusbatch said: “We understand children and provide an avenue for young performers who want to deliver a powerful message through the performing arts.

"We aim to raise awareness of social issues that are pertinent to kids - in this case, to portray what life is like for unaccompanied minors in refugee camps."

She added: “All children deserve to experience peace and happiness - some, sadly, are not that fortunate so we aim to give a voice to the voiceless child with a story to tell and share their story internationally.

"We aim to educate and engage audiences and performers alike about humanitarian social issues and develop their social conscience, but without patronising them.”

Mimi Mutahi, 16, from Nairobi, plays the lead character Esperance, a role she played when Kesho Amahoro was first performed in Kenya in 2010.

She said: "I was really excited and at the same time really overwhelmed as my best friend and I tried out for the play and then I got it. Either way we would have supported one another."

Mimi said that her parents had taken her to the Kigali Memorial Genocide Centre in Rwanda to further her understanding of the atrocities.

She said: "It was a good experience and very tough to see. One of the womam who had lost her child told us her story. So I used what I had learnt in my performance."

The teenage who is currently studying for her IGCSE's said: "It was very hard balancing my school work and rehearsals."

She added: "I hope people will come and see Kesho Amahoro and understand the story.

"My parents are really proud of me, they can't come to the performances, but I know they are with me in my heart and are rooting for me all the way from Nairobi."

Ticket sale profits will be donated to Save the Children and the UNHCR to support children refugees in Syria.

Subscribe to The Voice database!

We'd like to keep in touch with you regarding our daily newsletter, Voice competitions, promotions and marketing material and to further increase our reach with The Voice readers.

If interested, please click the below button to complete the subscription form.

We will never sell your data and will keep it safe and secure.

For further details visit our privacy policy.

You have the right to withdraw at any time, by clicking 'Unsubscribe'.

Facebook Comments