An Introduction to Banishing Fear and Shame, Reflection from Ben

On the morning of January 11, 2017 the participants of Acting Out Awareness camp arrived at the campus of the mission Jesus Obrero in the town of Tolé. Thirty eight youth from seven communities accompanied by 10 Peace Corps guides and facilitators began the trip hours, or even days earlier from their communities located in the mountainous region, a panorama of patchwork agriculture, grassy savanna and tropical vegetation amidst rugged geography. From varying degrees of isolation the participants in this camp walked  from their houses on labyrinth footpaths leading onto dirt roads and finally stemming out to the national highway that runs by the indigenous reservation in the central pacific mountains; called the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé for the two tribes that inhabit its territory.  With spacious facilities and beautiful grounds shaded by mango trees, the mission in Tolé likened a resort hotel for the kids who rarely travel into modern areas. After looking around and picking their bunks they gathered shyly with the friends and volunteer they'd come with, quietly assessing the group of youth between 10 and 16 years old; a mix of Latin and Ngäbe cultures and languages; and life conditions ranging from extreme poverty to  relative wealth, and education level from middle school dropout  to college bound high school seniors. 

They all cowered equally before the outrageous foreigners (gringos)  whose exaggerated personalities and silly ice breaker games were the antidote for keeping unwilling attitudes from creeping into camp. The theatre training began off the bat by naming the monster emotions of fear and shame and how to slay them with positive and open self expression. The whole group practiced the song and dance routine for the rendition of Enrique Iglesias "Lavando" and then broke up into their theatre groups to read the plays they would work on during the week. Thus, little by little the initial battle of the hero's journey began on the first day of camp. Each hero awakening to their individual potential and the empowering voices in the group that say: "we see you", "we like what we see" and "we will not turn away but rather uplift any part of you that you allow to come out this week."

Ben Garrison

 Gearing up for the final performance of camp in Tolé. 

Gearing up for the final performance of camp in Tolé.