Les Liaisons Joyeuses

In Brussels, many migrant women without legal status live in precarious situations while having no or limited access to health care and other basic services. Their access to descent care is mainly hampered by a lack of information, limited financial resources and poor experiences in the past . Médecins du Monde Belgium is implementing several projects with the objective not only to encourage the women to stay connected to the health system, but above all to give women the opportunity to re-gain control over their health, which includes their mental health and psychosocial well - being. Médecins du Monde has asked the support of C4C to help them in these efforts. The overall goal will be achieved with the help of Theatre & Reconciliation, a partner organization of Culture 4 Change.  The project took place between the end of March and June 2019.

Target group

Migrant women without legal status have been invited to participate in a theatre production.  Women from Guinea, Cameroun, Congo and Marocco, without legal identity, together with  students, patients  of a detox clinic and professional actors have been developing a theatre production under the leadership of Frédérique Lecomte, director of Theatre & Reconciliation. Rehearsals over a period of 5 weeks in small groups resulted in a final performance; some 65 actors played two times for an audience of some 500 people in total.

The role of Culture 4 Change within this specific context was to conduct a research action in order to

  • Determine whether the method of Theatre & Reconciliation indeed  results in feelings of more trust and psychosocial well-being among the target group that participates directly in the theatre production
  • Determine whether there are changes in perception among the audience : does the show indeed make members of the target group want to break out of their isolation and to communicate with others?

The answers to these two questions will help to determine whether this initiative is worth pursuing, and what needs to be adapted or changed in terms time and resources to extend efforts in the future.

Major results

Making use of theatre when working with groups of people that have faced severe adversities and stressful periods, resulting in feelings of frustration, withdrawal and isolation, is no new phenomenon and has proven to be successful in different contexts[1].  Theatre & Reconciliation specifically aims to empower vulnerable people and to restore social cohesion through conflict resolution and reconciliation[2]. Major result of this specific project are presently analyzed and documented. 

[1] Corcoran S. (2018)  In the Theatre of the Self: Reflections on the use of Drama in Treating Traumatic Stress Neurophysio and Rehab 1: 29-31; Dramatic Healing: The Evolution of a Trauma-Informed Musical Theatre Program for Incarcerated Girls . Meade Palidofsky &Bradley C. Stolbach ; Self-revelatory performance: A form of drama therapy and theatre Author: Emunah, Renée.Source: Drama Therapy Review, Volume 1, Number 1, 1 January 2015, pp. 71-85(15) Publisher: Intellect  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/dtr.1.1.71_1; Narrating, Witnessing, and Healing Trauma in Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive; https://doi.org/10.3138/md.53.1.103  Published Online: April 27, 2010 ; Gay Morris (2015) Special issue on applied theatre healing and trauma, South African Theatre Journal, 28:1, 1-3, DOI: 10.1080/10137548.2015.1011860; Barnes, H. and Coetzee, M.-H., eds. 2014. Applied drama/theatre as social intervention in conflict and post-conflict contexts. Newcastle on Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Lan, D., 1990. Desire and other plays. London: Faber and Faber.

Nebe, W., 2013. Welcome note. In: 2013 Drama for Life Africa Research Conference: the unfinished business of truth and reconciliation: arts, trauma and healing [Programme]. Johannesburg: University of the Witwatersrand, 2–3.

[2] Theatre & Reconciliation (https://www.theatrereconciliation.org) is a Belgium non-profit organization that organizes theatre workshops and develops theatre productions with and for communities that are torn apart as a result of violence and conflict; marginalized individuals, child soldiers, detainees, victims of torture, patients in therapeutic settings, asylum seekers, victims of sexual violence. See: Théâtre et Réconciliation,  méthode pour une pratique théâtrale dans les zones de conflit

Theatre er & Reconciliation is active in Belgium and other countries such as Congo, Burundi and Rwanda

[3] See the extensive work of Dr. Peter A. Levine, resulting from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application.

Prevention of Gender-Based Violence in Cambodia

In Cambodia, violence against women is alarming, with one in 89% of them not reporting it. More than half or all children in Cambodia and experience violence, and often based on gender.  

Khmer culture and tradition are often tasks as explanations for the gap between legislation or international standards and violence against women and girls. The challenge is to change the 'tradition' of harming women, and to convince people of the value of behavioral change. The project uses the strength of culture to transform 'traditional' beliefs and behavior patterns. The current National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women (NAPVAW) requires a Theory of Change built on what makes sense to ordinary men and women . Accordingly, the project poses that culture can and must be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

C4C works with Monash University and Buddhism for Health, a local Non-governmental Organization, implementing development activities in the Kingdom of Cambodia in a neutral, non-racist, non-religious, and not for profit basis. 


Social and Financial Inclusion

To close the gap in income, information and opportunities between the needs and the needs of being closed. There is a lot happening in new technologies, from innovative use or mobile phones, use or satellites in agriculture, e-banking and what not. But: technical solutions will only work when people use them. In fragile states and excluded communities, intensive use of new technologies requires trust. At C4C we believe that social inclusion is not sustainable without closing the digital gap in these globalized times. Families need access to financial products, but there is minimal social cohesion. In many fragile political situation this cohesion has been shattered. The strength of our partnership with Auxfin is that social and financial inclusion go hand in hand: 

Inclusive communities