An article by one of the camp facilitators Brad Odilo on the LifeSkills Camp of April 2018.
The giant swing jolted us from an almost 45 degree angle fast into free fall, we had agreed to let go our hands and arms from the swing bar. The idea behind it was to experience what recklessness in mid-air felt like. That was me and my partner as we had taken our turn to take part in the giant swing challenge of activities.
It was the last day of a 4 day camp outing with over 45 participants from disadvantaged backgrounds but finding an advantageous common ground of experiencing a different world than they are accustomed to. This offer was not only made to them but also to us, the camp facilitators.
Gamuchirai Mbetu, a friend, had called to invite me to be a facilitator on Creative Arts and how the participants can use it to experience healing and hopefully pursue their art forms and take them seriously. It would emerge as a learning curve for me personally more than I had prepared to be the one dispensing some nuggets from my experience as a Poet, Spoken Word Artist and Enthusiast to see the culture in an ever progressive state.
NdaiZiva Capacity Development, a technical partner with SAfAIDS and Irish Aid has been rolling out such programs since inception that culminate in camps to impact its communities. This particular project was being run under the thrust “Sustaining an integrated approach to HIV and GBV prevention through promoting gender norms transformation within Zimbabwe”.
I cannot even begin to try quantifying the effect of the cause of such an initiative. I for one have been involved to a small degree in community development but never had I encountered it at such a scale where the impact is so personal in a small setup yet broad to demand a change in at least the outlook of the participants, if they so choose.
The participants ranged from 10-24 years of age and upon arrival they were split into 4 groups: Lions, Buffaloes, Elephants and Hippos. The Lions were the youngest of the participants but the fiercest in terms of the display of their war-cry. I had tasked each group to come up with a war-cry that they had to display each evening at the combined Creative Arts/Entertainment session.
Art is simply expression; I left them with those remarks. Creative Arts then becomes an output of anything unique expressed in the form of words, actions, pictures and sounds or all. Our team of other facilitators handled topics and issues on Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Environmental Management, Prevention Gender Based Violence, Career Guidance, Positive Thinking, Self Awareness, Spiritual Care and Support and Entrepreneurial Skills. All these essential areas were covered intertwined with engaging and fun filled team building activities and challenging mind games. I recall one such team building activity where participants after separated by gender had to balance a dish full of water with their feet soles up in the air with their backs on the ground. It was just electric to watch the negotiations that arise and tactics that come up when no one wants cold water spilled on their body.
To give the whole camp experience an ecstatic feel, the constant energized and witty chants and harmonies did the job well. It reminded me of my high school days on cheering our school against an opponent in a sporting discipline. It was exhilarating to say the least. I got to network and form relationships with the other facilitators, bonded with the participants and became a mentor to some aspiring poets and writers. It was made a tad easier when some would identify that I come out on National TV regularly sharing some of my art work. To put a summation of the camp from my perspective, I learnt more from everyone else than they could learn from me, and that is invaluable. The aftermath has left me more defined in my life path and purpose and passion and a yearning to be more excellent in everything that am about.
If I had to pick the highlight of the camp however in benefit for the participants was when the SAfAIDS Team led by Tanyaradzwa Nyakatawa came through and facilitated a Life Skills session. It was an honest sharing from the facilitator to a willing inducement to take a sober introspection of where your life has been and the course it has taken in encouragement to where you want to be. The practicality of the session was simply freeing.
Freedom is like that free fall from the giant swing with my partner!
Freedom tastes like the joy that comes from eating basic meals collectively in the spirit of togetherness. Freedom is more than independence from colonial rule. Freedom is experiencing a moment in the context of newness yet being so familiar with the environment. Freedom is to seize an opportunity to face your fears in the light of comfort. Freedom is your choice!
Aftermath camp, with the amazing human beings coming from many unfavourable situations and conditions, I tasted freedom. I met freedom face to face and I gave her a promise that I would tell others how such a beautiful person she is, so liberating.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” – Galatians 5:1 KJV
That scripture speaks volumes, transcending not only the reversal from bondage from the law that Christ provided us but in actuality freedom in the every sense of the word imaginable. It would be amiss for me not to give thanks to NdaiZiva Capacity Development for awarding me an opportunity as such, to them I was a facilitator but in actuality I was a beneficiary. SAfAIDS and Irish Aid for the continual work that you incur in ensuring that there is funding for such impacts to be made, Godspeed!
Tot facienda parum factum – So little done yet so much to do, indeed, but for those who are currently and have in past done something to change the lives of people through patches of seemingly far-fetched freedom, God bless you!
My challenge to you, my reader, is what are you doing in your little way to provide freedom to others in the way that you understand it?
Think about it and take appropriate action after.
by Brad Odilo