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IOM CAR Launches Theatre Campaign to Strengthen Social Cohesion

A theater campaign launched in Bangui, Central African Republic as part of IOM’s Community Stabilization Project aims to provide a collective positive experience that will initiate dialogue and a trust-building process among residents in mixed communities. © IOM 2015

On Thursday (14/5) IOM and the Alliance Française jointly launched a one-week theatre campaign in Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR). The campaign, under IOM CAR’s Community Stabilization Project, funded by the European Union (EU), is aimed at promoting peaceful coexistence and economic revitalization in Bangui’s 3rd and 5th districts.

The 2013 coup d’état and subsequent violence in CAR caused widespread suffering and displacement, and damaged social cohesion. The theatre campaign aims to provide a collective positive experience that will initiate dialogue and a trust-building process among residents in mixed communities.

The theatre campaign will include four productions of the play Ala tè sunongo (God Does Not Sleep) performed by Blonda, a Malian theatre troupe, featuring the celebrated Malian comedienne, Diarrah Sanogo as well as Central African artists. The play Ala tè sunongo conveys the importance of willpower and self-determination to face difficult situations and persevere – important messages given the context of community stabilization in Bangui.

In addition, the interactive nature of the theatre will encourage audience members to participate, allowing community members to initiate dialogue in a safe and supportive environment. Messages focus on common topics community members face daily, such as returning from a displacement site and integrating into their community of origin, following extended periods of displacement.

“It is exciting to see events happen here in the enclave. As we cannot go outside, we have little entertainment. This is the first time we are using the old cinema space again. I have participated in many IOM events in the past months, and I know it is always a little different, I was expecting to come to a theatre and be entertained. Instead, I was asked for my opinion and had to participate in the development of the play. That was very exciting and unusual. It was great to see the entire community participate in the process,” said Fatou, a 26-year-old resident of quartier Senegalais in the 3rd district.

The productions will be held at four different locations and will be free-of-charge to encourage widespread attendance among community members in mixed communities of Bangui’s 3rd and 5th districts.

The theatre productions coincide with the official launching of the voluntary return process of Mpoko, Bangui’s largest IDP site near the international airport, which is supported by IOM with funding from CHF.

IOM’s EU-funded Community Stabilization Project aims to contribute to the stability and early recovery of communities heavily affected by the widespread violence since December 2013. The three main components of the project include cash-for-work, infrastructure, and social cohesion projects.  By engaging community members and revitalizing social spaces and infrastructure, the social cohesion projects endeavor to strengthen dialogue and solidarity within mixed communities.

The project has supported the rehabilitation of more than 13 infrastructure projects, including the rehabilitation of schools, medical facilities, social centres and other public infrastructure. More than 13,000 people, 41 per cent of them women, have participated in cash for work activities, including cleaning canals, roads, and schools. In addition, 141,000 community members have participated in socialization campaign activities, including conferences and debates on topics of community integration, recreational activities, sports events and concerts.

The Community Stabilization project will run until August 2015 and IOM is urgently appealing for additional funds in order to sustain the momentum it has achieved in the stabilization process.

For more information, please contact Anne Schaefer at IOM CAR, Tel: +23672187635, Email: aschaefer@iom.int