IMG_0492.jpegProject Free Your Mind is a collaboration between Hand in Hand East Africa (HiH EA) and Clowns Without Borders (CWB).

Initiated in 2012, the project is owned by HiH Sweden and CWB Sweden and funded by the Swedish Postcode lottery. CWB Sweden invited CWB South Africa to become partners because of our unique arts-based interventions and capacity building techniques. Since Nov 2012, CWBSA have been working in Kenya doing training, follow-ups and performance tours.

The main aim of the project is to create better living conditions for 7500 young mothers and their children, living in poverty in Kenya. As part of the project, HiH EA community facilitators train groups of young mothers in savings, financial management and entrepreneurship. Since the young mothers often are vulnerable and face severe challenges, CWBSA’s role has been to train the HiH EA community facilitators in how to provide psychosocial support.

IMG_3567.jpegCWBSA facilitating artists, Annabel Morgan and Nicholas Mamba, designed and implemented an experiential training to equip HiH EA community facilitators with creative, playful and psychosocial tools to use with the Young Mothers. The purpose of these tools is to strengthen their self-esteem, release their stress, free their minds and awaken their joy for life. Together with the HiH EA community facilitators, the CWBSA facilitators have created a Free Your Mind toolbox with stories, games, songs and other creative activities collected from all over Kenya.

CWBSA have also carried out follow-ups in all of the regions where HiH EA works to ensure the tools are being implemented effectively. In order to make our impact more sustainable, CWB have also provided training and capacity building for a local organisation called the Sarakasi Hospital Project who have co-facilitated some of the activities and can continue the work after the project has ended.

CWB has also rolled out 2 international performance tours, involving artists from 7 different countries (Swaziland, South Africa, Kenya, Sweden, Spain, Belgium and UK). The main aim of the tours were to provide a platform for HiH EA to present themselves to isolated communities, recruit new members and inspire their pre-existing young mothers groups. Here is a breakdown of the activities so far.

IMG_4049.jpegModule 1, November 2012:

2 day training with community facilitators, focused on CWBSA’s tools such as storytelling, drama, song, movement, arts and crafts, and relaxation exercises. In other words, ‘what’ we do. The community facilitators experience the tools firsthand in the understanding that change must begin with oneself first.

Module 2 February 2013:

3 day training with community facilitators, focused on CWBSA’s toolbox and facilitation approach. In other words, ‘how’ we do what we do. The community facilitators explore what it means to be a facilitator and the different skills required to create a safe, positive environment for working with the tools. They explore how the tools can be integrated into their work to provide more psychosocial support for their beneficiaries.

IMG_4028.jpegModule 3 June 2013:

2 day follow-up with the community facilitators, focused on observing their work in the field, mentoring and providing constructive feedback, as well as a booster training. The role of the booster training is to fill the gaps (as observed when shadowing them in the field) and respond to what is needed; whether it be to strengthen the skills already shared in previous trainings and/or provide more in-depth training in certain areas.

Module 4 July 2013:

2 week performance tour for 3,264 mothers and children

Module 5 June 2014:

3 week performance tour for 7,500 mothers and children

Module 5: