REPACTED is the abbreviation of Rapid Effective Participatory Action in Community Theater Education and Development.
Photo by Oso: REPACTED Kenya Headquarters
REPACTED was formed in the year 2001 by young theater artists from the Nakuru Players Theater Club with assistance from an international NGO. Their aim is to improve the community by encouraging young people and involving them in community development through participatory theater methodologies, awareness campaigns and peer education and counseling.
The scope of the Youth Media Consultative Forum is stated in their application to Rising Voices:
The youth media consultative forum will collect news, stories, information, and other content from their respective communities among the target population and post them on the internet, through photography, broadcast, video, blogging, and magazines. The project will also use Magnet Theater to inform, educate, and communicate to the target population. With the above activities the target population will be able to communicate with like minded population in the whole world, and show the true picture of their community. The kind of news and stories that we will collect and share using the above tools will be to show the struggles that young people are going through here in Nakuru Kenya and give them a voice.
In their first post in Rising Voices REPACTED tells about its works and achievements till-to-date.
Photo by Oso: Dennis Kimambo
Dennis Kimambo is the resource mobilizer of the program. We have talked with him recently to learn about the program and its progress in details. Here is the interview:
RV: REPACTED deals with behavioral changes among Kenyan youths on social issues. How is ICT helpful to you in your endeavors?
Dennis Kimambo: REPACTED uses ICT in terms of looking up for the latest information and to keep the world updated of what is happening or what we are doing as an organization. The organization is growing and has not had a chance to tell the world what has been going on within the organization and we want our partners to be part of the growth.
RV: Tell us about Magnet Theater, your Forum Theater initiative. How much success did you have with it? Is it getting popular?
Dennis Kimambo: Magnet Theater is a form of participatory theater that is performed within the community space available. The group members, who come from the communities that we go to, researches on the problem that faces a community and enact a skit that poses a dilemma on the problem subject of the day. A process facilitator then freezes the play and poses a question to the audience i.e. the community members present during the session.
The facilitator guides the discussion to solutions that are brought by the community members through the discussions that happen. In simple words Magnet Theater helps the community to have a forum to discuss issues that they will not have discussed in their day to day life, not even within the family setup because of taboo and cultural practices. Through interactive theater we are able to break the inhibitions and have them discussed. One of the catchy thing is that we use the members of the same community who have changed behavior as magnification candidates who magnifies the behavior that they have changed to the rest of the community. In this way the community can easily adapt to the same behavior without feeling that it is foreign.
Photo by Dennis Kimambo- Magnet Theater: Enacting with a community member stepping in the shoes of a character.
RV: How are you combining Magnet Theater with the new media tools? Tell us about your workshops.
Dennis Kimambo: The media tools will be a blessing in terms of helping us to cover what we do and have a record of the same and also help us in communicating the same to the world.
Once we have the training of the community members on how to use the media tools we will be able to get to know the more challenging things that they face in terms of reproductive health and HIV and AIDS and they will help us to have more discussion with the community and tackle most of the problems that they face. This will be possible because we are going to give incentives to the best stories that we will get from the community members as they will be in the project.
RV: Tell us about the participants. What difficulties you face in arranging and conducting the citizen media workshops?
Dennis Kimambo: We have been recruiting members from the site that we go to within the community and now we are recruiting from the Internally Displaced People camps that are in Nakuru. The challenge that we are facing is how to ensure that they will continue with the outreaches once the camps are no more in Nakuru as they will go back to there homes.
RV: What roll did REPACTED play during Kenya's political crisis? How was Nakuru affected?
Dennis Kimambo: REPACTED played a major role of spreading peace messages through the mobile phone to the youths who were participating in the war. Ensuring that those targeted in worst hit areas could get to safety and this we did by sending them airtime which they used to call for escort. We also housed some of the displaced peoples in our homes. We also went to visit the internally displaced in the camps and took them food stuffs and clothes since they were in need. We visited the fighting communities and held peace forums with them in order for them to stop fighting. We held community theater outreaches in some of the site which were adversely affected and taught them the need to live peacefully as (this we are still continuing and the citizens media outreaches will help a lot) brothers and sisters so that our country can develop in all aspects.
RV: The Western media has said the political crisis is over in Kenya and things are getting back to normal – is that how you see it right now in Nakuru?
Dennis Kimambo: The political crisis might be over in terms of the fighting but if the issues that caused are not addressed it might go back to that situation and even be far more worse than it was. Because communities have armed themselves and are ready for anything.
Nakuru is safe and things are slowly getting back to normal but more than 12000 displaced families are within the town area, which has become a security threat to the residents. The number of crime has increased with a lot of mugging within the estates.
RV: Please describe how December's post-election crisis has changed your citizen media outreach project.
Dennis Kimambo: The post election crisis has changed our outreach recruitment and the messages that we are going to pass to the public and the world at large. Through what we saw and happened we have a different perspective of how we live in the country. It is emerging that communities that were living together and trading together most of the members there were living a hypocrite like life with one another. In this way we want to bring out the message of reconciliation and coexistence with one another.
Photo by Dennis Kimambo: Members of REPACTED before a performance
RV: Are you getting any feedback from the participants and community regarding your initiatives?
Dennis Kimambo: The community has been cooperative with what we are doing so far and many young people are willing and ready to join the initiatives that we have.
We are looking forward to hear the stories of the Kenyan youths. Please keep an eye on their project blog in Rising Voices for updates.