Baratang Initiative aims to support children experiencing distress through drama therapy and healing arts education. This means we do easy, fun exercises with children to stabilize and find balance during traumatic periods. We support and train teachers and parents to use these simple tools. As lockdown started in March 2021 we felt the need to try to support children experiencing difficulty. With this project, Baratang Initiative worked in conjunction with Emergency Pedagogy SA Jhb (an organization with similar aims) and Drama for Life, WITS, a department that aims to use drama to educate and heal in fun, inspiring and happy ways.
We responded to the events regarding:
- Lockdown and providing food security in difficult-to-reach areas
- being in communication with Wits students that were in lockdown in communities that were struggling to access resources
And we devised a simple plan. We assisted a student of DFL (WITS), to provide a meal and a gentle joyful game to children from Orange Farm. With this project, Baratang Initiatives aimed to prevent collective trauma from turning into PTSD, by providing simple relaxing and activating drama games and a meal to children.
Baratang Initiatives, in collaboration with Drama for Life, ensured that the student received the money electronically. The student in return brought the food and shared a game and a meal with the children in their immediate surroundings. We knew that sharing stories, games, songs, rhythms, and dances can inspire, stabilize, and ground children and this project proved to confirm it. At the same time, all lockdown and social distancing rules also had to be followed and implemented to ensure the safety of all involved.
The truth is that our schools are still filled with children who are exposed to poverty, crime, and domestic violence on a daily basis. The only way to survive in such a world is to run away, freeze or fight back. In this state, it is impossible for learners to learn or for teachers to teach. No wonder South Africa’s higher education system ranks 134th out of 138 countries and that we have such a high unemployment rate. The Covid-19 pandemic has unearthed the buried trauma that has been lurking in South Africa for years.
That was what this program was all about. It is a feeding scheme with a difference. It assisted a student, children, and her community to stabilize their anxieties about food and ‘uncramp’ the debilitating effects of continual anxiety and stress by providing simple tools to re-create physical, mental, and social rhythms.
South Africa cannot address any of our socio-economic ills unless:
- We can create safe and happy spaces for our children
- Equip teachers/students to understand and deal with the symptoms of trauma
- Build resilience in learners through simple, tried-and-tested therapeutic games and activities
We need your open hearts and financial support to further this and other similar ventures. We urge you to join us in this important task.
About the author
A dynamic non-profit organisation responding to the crises in South African schools. Our mission is to positively change the face of education by supporting the growth of healthy school communities; addressing trauma and supporting learners to become healthy, caring and capable human beings.