Everyone attending an in-country No Strings workshop, like this participant in Cambodia, is given a hand-made puppet. After showing children a film, they use them to break the ice and encourage young people to talk about the issues they’ve seen. Quite often, their puppet hasn’t been paying attention and needs their help …
Sometimes they might give them to children to help them express emotions and feelings.
They can be copied, or simple sock puppets also make great alternatives. Often, they’re used by children to develop their own scenes based on what they’ve learnt. They bring issues home.
Initially, we wondered how were going to be able to provide all these puppets, and then a few years ago, No Strings founder Johnie’s brother Barney McGlade introduced us to an organisation he’d help set up many years ago in the Philippines. Kasamaka is based among some of the poorest communities in Manila and supports families of children with disabilities through income-generating projects. Unable to leave their family to go out to work, these mothers have now made hundreds of wonderful Big Mouth Puppets, as we call them, that have supported our workshops in various parts of the world.
It’s obviously good to find similar groups in new countries we work in. In Haiti, local community worker Marie France came to our workshop one day with an exact copy of the puppet we’d just given her, made out of diamond-check cloth, a Christmas sock lining the inside of his mouth, and especially loveable for it. She’s now created a new puppet army for new facilitators using the films around that country.
We’ve had Syrian refugee mothers at it, and with Madagascan parents obliged by ‘fadies’ or cultural taboos to complete the whole puppet – eyes, stick, cardboard mouth lining and all (we normally do all these fiddly bits)! Puppets are taking over …