May 2009 Travel Zambia 9 In the frame Party time The dancing and celebrations continue into the evening.
10 Travel Zambia May 2009 Nkani >> News · views · people · places · conservation · community · wildlife · culture HARD ACT TO FOLLOW Zambia continues to draw talent from around the world. Adam McGuigan is a drama teacher from Ireland who found his inspiration among the street children of Lusaka. Keen to make a difference, he set up an innovative drama-based NGO called Barefeet. Laura Manni asked him how it all started. Hollywood star Matt Damon is one of many well- known personalities also inspired by a visit to Zambia. Damon, star of Ocean's Eleven and the Bourne Identity, toured the Chongwe district on a visit sponsored by DATA ( Debt AIDS Trade Africa). He visited various projects set up as part of the UNDP/ UNV poverty reduction programme, including orphan care, women in business and HIV/ AIDS awareness. " The work that's being done and the people that I met on the front line there," Damon told Associated Press," I just came away feeling like we're going to beat this." BOURNE IN ZAMBIA It was an experience in a Vietnam orphanage during Adam McGuigan's gap year that ultimately led him to Zambia. He vividly remembers the spirit of the children, despite the hardships they endured, and the way in which they were transformed with just a football - and someone to pay them a little attention. That day in Vietnam remained with Adam as he completed his Masters in Drama and Physical Theatre back in the UK. And from it an idea grew. He developed a one- man theatre show and took it on the road across South Africa, spending seven months in 2006 performing in rural community schools. Circumstances soon led Adam to Lusaka, where he discovered Fountain of Hope - a large shelter that provides over 1000 of Lusaka's 128,000 street orphans with schooling, meals, counselling and various empowerment projects. When Adam ran an acrobatics workshop the talents and courage of the children astonished him. " They had never had anyone saying ' don't do that, you'll break your neck," he recalls. " They had no fear!" Adam continued working with these children. When the plight of ' street kids' became a key issue during the build- up to the 2006 elections, he helped give them a voice for the fi rst time by creating a play based upon their concerns. Thus Barefeet Zambia was launched in November 2006, with a performance that Adam recalls being " the most theatrical moment" of his life. The going has not always been easy. Adam remembers returning to Ireland at one point feeling " emotionally drained and demoralised". But it was upon his return that he met and joined forces with Tobias Tembo, an inspiring Zambian who was part of Builders of the Right Attitude ( BORA). The two collaborated on several projects and have been working with each other ever since. Highlights have included performing for Bill Clinton in 2007, touring the EU as part of the ' Contacting the World' festival and, last December, staging Lusaka's fi rst proper Christmas show: Edward Scissorhands: the Story of Snow. And there is much more to come. Just watch this space. Barefeet uses theatre and creativity to build awareness of issues affecting orphans and street children. Learn more at www. barefeettheatre. org or contact Adam McGuigan at adam@ barefeettheatre. org. BAREFEET THEATRE LAURA MANNIDATA X 2