The first workshops of the Central African chapter of AAD’s “Refugees on the Move” program have concluded with resounding success, bringing dance to the Congolese refugee camps in the country. Led by the choreographer Boniface Watanga, a native of the Central African Republic, the workshops continued without interruption or difficulty despite the recent political troubles in the country following the coup d’état.
Built on the belief that dance can serve as a tool of reprieve as well as social and cultural mediation within refugee camps, the first session was on the basic steps of traditional, hip hop and contemporary dance. Once these techniques were learned, the refugees progressed to the following two parts of the dance program, which will focus on creating a performance that, conditions willing, may be presented in Bangui on June 20, during International Refugee Day. These dance gatherings have also allowed the populations of the refugee camps to intermingle with the locals and pass on good health practices to both.
Furthermore, cultural and artistic activities were also held in the schools within the Batalimo camps. Clowns, spelling and math bees – all were included in the program, as well as information campaigns on health and dance as a means of communications between children. Traditional Congolese tales, translated to French for this occasion, were also told to children to familiarize them and teach them the language.
With around 100 regular participants in the dance workshops and a further 3,000-plus impacted, the first phase of “Refugees on the Move” in the Central African Republic was an undoubted success. This provides yet further motivation to implement the program in AAD’s 10 target countries, with Tanzania and Burundi on the list for this year.