The Story Workshop Educational Trust (SWET) was contracted by Vale Logistics to provide services for the Social Development Sub-Programme where it conducted social mobilization campaigns in the form of drama, community cinema and traditional media in the targeted schools and communities of Chikhwawa, Neno, Mwanza, Balaka and Machinga districts. Under the Economic and Social Management Programme, the programme is outlined in the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the Nacala Railway Project Section 3 and Section 5 in Malawi. The prioritized thematic areas covered by the sub-programme include: Health, Safety and Culture.THEMES
Health: The Health Campaigns sought to invest on health awareness raising actions with a focus on education and prevention of HIV / AIDS, Malaria, STIs and promotion of healthy lifestyles; It was aimed at contributing towards prevention of new infections, mitigation of stigma and discrimination of those living with HIV/AIDS but also encouraging normative health choices.
Safety: This theme sought to invest on safety awareness raising actions with a focus on Road and railway safety. It aimed at contributing towards the reduction of risks, prevention of fatalities, accidents and near misses along the rail/roads. The emphasis on this thematic area was the need for communities to observe rail/road signs, desist from, prevent and report vandalism of road/rail signs, but also largely to facilitate behavioural, attitudinal, practices shift towards more safety conscious and responsive communities.
Culture: In line with SWET’s Edutainment approach and Vale’s interest in supporting and encouraging local artistic-cultural events, musical and theatrical presentations, this theme was largely aimed at creating a forum where traditional leaders, youths, cultural groups, community associations and entities would interact and share on safety and health.
Story Workshop values collaboration and partnership during the implementation of the campaign. At community level, Story Workshop interacted with stakeholders at T/A, group-village, and village level, including community leaders, teachers (including traditional leaders), committees, initiators, those working in the health and education sectors, parents and guardians and school management committees. These linkages promoted and enhanced synergy in the messaging as well as the sustainability of the messages.
During the course of implementation, it was also recommended by the District Council to be part of the monthly District Executive Meeting where we are able to provide progress on the status of activities. As such, 2 DEC meetings in Mwanza and Neno were attended to even though this was not part of the agreed contract.
Community Cinema Shows
The community cinemas created an entertaining and educative platform as well provide community members with an opportunity to watch, learn and apply the relevant information on Health issues especially HIV/AIDS, STIs and other sexual behavior patterns such as multiple concurrent partnerships which were rampant during the Construction phase of the Nacala Corrridor. Story Workshop showed a TV drama series “Timasukilane” loosely translated as “Lets break the silence” to educate the communities on the dangers of trans-generational sex, multiple- concurrent sexual partnerships; mitigate stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. This component was critical for the whole campaign as it acted as a means and an end in itself. As a means because it was a crowd puller and an end as it was conduit for messages under health theme. During the shows it was noted that the cinema facilitated dialogue and debate amongst the audience members as they related with stories and identify themselves with characters which is the first step in behavior change. Due to the demand for more community cinemas, SWET conducted a total of 22 cinema shows against a set target of 20.
Theatre for Development Performances
Community orientations acted as a situation analysis forum on the prevailing issues and factors affecting issues of Health and Safety. It was also informed the content for the drama performances. This helped SWET to come up with drama performances that resonates with the experiences of the specific targeted communities. At the end of the performance and the discussion the community will take a pledge to be advocated for. In total 52 drama performances were conducted across all the 5 districts in 3 months.
Expressive Art through Painting
In the schools, after a drama performance, SWET interacted with the students in expressive art through painting with the messages on Safety along the railway. Story Workshop provided the paint for the activity. Since the beginning of the campaign, a total of 18 schools have been painted against a set target of 20.
SWET worked hand in hand with school personnel and District Education manager’s offices in all districts to ensure the smooth implementation of the activity. Depending on the individual school preferences, the paintings were done either inside or outside the classrooms. The Expressive art aimed at institutionalizing the memory on rail/road safety.