Why are we working in Sierra Leone?

Many young people live on the streets in Freetown, due to displacement in the war and a lack of opportunities outside the main city. Many of these are aspiring musicians, film-makers, photographers and more, working with our partners WAYout Arts to develop their creative skills.
We have created a programme to share skills from our work with refugees so that local Sierra Leonians can create and deliver their own music programmes in their communities. Consequently, we delivered a successful trial of this way of working last year and are continuing to grow and develop the collaboration.

Photo by Josta from WAYout Arts

What we do when we are there

This visit in November, we worked on voice/harmony, rhythm/body percussion, piano/songwriting, as well as facilitation, activity design and self-evaluation. We explored more and more advanced facilitation skills, leading to 4 smaller facilitator groups planning and delivering creative sessions at a placement of their choice.
Our week’s visit culminated in an interactive street performance led by our new facilitators in a slum area called Ferry Junction where the public were invited to sing and dance. An older lady shared a traditional song and a young boy led a song and free-styled over the top. It was magical!
The exciting thing to see was how facilitator musicians quickly realised how many songs, skills and tools they had to contribute and build from. – Alex Etchart, Facilitator

What happens next?

These 10 week placements are running until the end of the year in a women’s prison, a men’s prison, and a juvenile detention centre. “Rhythm Voices of Freedom”, a new choir created by WAYout members who are or have been street homeless, will also participate to sing and create new music together. In each placement, local facilitators will write songs with their participants and lead to a final performance. We will support with mid-programme video check-ins to see how its going and pass on any new ideas that might be needed.
Thanks so much to our lovely facilitators Alex & Noga and to Hazel, Gibo and Josta from the WAYout team for all their hard work to make this happen.

Feedback from Facilitators

I want to take this to my community, especially to the school. I see a lot of kids who aren’t happy in school, and I think these programmes can help kids change their negative experiences in the classroom. – Facilitator
With music, I’m a free man…I think that this facilitator skill can help members of the community to believe in themselves, so I really love it. – Facilitator

Film by Josta from WAYout Arts

Live audio and feedback from a women’s prison

Participants sang songs about their personal issues, putting their narratives into music, which is helping them letting go of issues that trouble them. One participant was singing about his father passing away, saying that this song was for him, who had told her she was the greatest happiness in his life. Others were singing traditional songs of wisdom, and talked about how once they got out of prison, they were determined to stay out of it. Everyone was happy to be able to resolve inner distress through the music sessions, and they thought it was a refreshing experience that was a change from repetitive daily routines in prison.

“I honestly can’t explain this all because I will lose some of my fingers, especially my thumb in typing. If I say, I will say everything, I can’t get all the awesome moments we had.”

Sillah, Sierra Leonean Facilitator

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