We partnered with the Environmental Health Program of Peace Corps Panamá and the Panamanian Ministry of Health to train 30 indigenous youth as community health promoters on the topics of hand washing, household water treatment, and HIV/AIDS. Each participating teen went through a training program with their local Peace Corps Volunteer on these health issues and interviewed their community health promoter.
Seven acting troupes from five different communities attended a weeklong camp to learn basic acting and directing from theatre professionals. They took classes on self-esteem, character development, Viewpoints movement work, plot structure, monologue writing, and hours of scene rehearsal. Each troupe made their props and costumes as well.
The week culminated in a night of performances. Each troupe performed a short play centered on a health theme, along with songs and dances representing their indigenous cultures. Over 100 community members attended their first-ever live theatre that night.
In the following months, the acting troupes returned to their local communities where they presented their plays and gave health trainings to parents, students, and community leaders. In total, the plays reached an audience of over 500 people in the most underserved regions of the country.
One community member said, “Rich people pay lots of money to travel to cities to see art like this. We’ve been blessed tonight to have it come to us and my only regret is that the rest of the town isn’t here to see it. They really missed out on something beautiful. I am so impressed with the work these teenagers have done in such a short amount of time. They are so talented and intelligent and I am proud to welcome them into my community.”
Fidel, the 12 year old who sang a patriotic song to start the evening told us after the show, "I wasn't listening to my shame monster because if I did I wouldn't have been able to get up and sing in front of everybody."