Since May this year, No Strings has conducted three week-long trainings with staff and partners of IOM, the International Organisation for Migration, a UN body overseeing, in Iraq, the wellbeing of people uprooted because of conflict. The focal point for all three workshops has been our film Red Top, Blue Top, a fable that tells the tale of two peoples of the same village divided by mutual enmity over generations – and how they are able to rediscover empathy and perspective and live peaceably together. The project is being rolled out both among Syrian refugee children, IDPs – internally displaced peoples – as well as host communities in Kurdistan and the Baghdad and Basra regions.
The focus of the film is social cohesion, and so the activities we use to challenge children’s understanding of such complex messages need to be instantly appealing, inclusive, and require close and effective cooperation with others; thus they support partners’ psychosocial programming also. We hope in time to be able to bring additional support through use of our trauma film, Out of the Shadows.
In pictures here, a look through some of our camp visits with our training participants.
“These magic shoes will bring you everything you desire and more,” the Wise Man tells the two village leaders. Sounds good to them – but they have no idea what actually lies in store. The leaders magically transform into each other for 12 hours, and in doing so come to understand, for the first time in their lives, who their enemies really are: people who are just like themselves
Syrian refugee children tell ‘Bob’ (who hasn’t quite understood) what the film is really about
Making and connecting at an IDP camp. The film is rich in symbols and metaphors: making them with play dough helps children reflect around their significance. They can then interpret these same ideas through symbols that are meaningful to them personally
Fun and meaningful activities are vital for uprooted children like these at this IDP camp in Iraq, who have no idea what the future holds
At our training workshop, participants make table top puppets from newspaper and practice having them dance. The puppets are worked by a team of three and require close cooperation, and can be remarkably life-like after just a little practice
They go down well on a visit to an IDP camp school, where children make them and have them dance to a favourite song they sing
Making a model of the Red Top, Blue Top village to show how tensions shaped people’s lives before the Wise Man’s intervention, and discussing how all the villagers felt
A model made later showing the same village in harmony. What will the villagers have to do if they’re to continue to live in peace together?
A shadow puppet play that stops at a point of conflict. The starfish and snake both want to live in a sunken car at the bottom of the sea – what kind of win win solution can the grandfather whale inspire?
The children in the audience can help! What does each character need and want?
It’s been quite a day, Bob. Well done!
For our participants, whose lives are focused around the wellbeing of others and hearing many difficult stories, our trainings provide a break where they can do something completely different; make puppets, play and discuss. At the end of each day, a silly quick game. No cheating anyone…