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Young volunteers encourage public health dialogue through forum theatre

10th Asia-Europe Young Volunteers’ Exchange: Health on Stage

“This project in India is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about forum theatre and its relevance to public health,” says Suzanne Prak from the Netherlands. She adds, “It is about intercultural learning and communication, allowing us to practice in field situations, to meet people, to create intercultural collaborations and together contribute to more education on public health by using creative methods”. Suzanne is one of the 21 volunteers from 15 ASEM countries who will participate in the 10th Asia-Europe Young Volunteers Exchange (AEYVE): Health on Stage - Enhancing Cultural Competencies for Public Health Dialogue.

This ASEF initiative, co-organised with the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS), is hosted by the Field Services & Inter-Cultural Learning (FSL India). It will take place in India (Bangalore, Chennai, Mysore; 20 August - 1 October 2011).

Health on Stage marks ASEF’s decade-long dedication and commitment to the promotion of International Voluntary Service in the ASEM area. It is taking place to commemorate the United Nations Volunteers’ (UNV) 10th Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteering (IYV+10) and the European Year of Volunteering. An innovative and creative approach, it also engages communities in ASEM countries. “It reaches out on issues that are closely linked to their everyday lives,” says Mr Zhang Hongtie, Director of ASEF’s People-to-People Exchange department.

During the first phase of the programme (20-28 August, Bangalore), the volunteers will be equipped with necessary skills by experts from the fields of forum theatre and public health. This will be followed by field activities in the next phase (28 August - 26 September). Divided into three groups, the volunteers are sent to Bangalore, Chennai and Mysore, where they will perform with and for the local communities. They will go to the slums in Bangalore, industrial belt in Chennai and tribal village in Mysore.

For the evaluation phase, all participants will converge in Bangalore (27 September - 01 October). Based on what they will have experienced in the field, recommendations on how to make the best use of forum theatre in promoting dialogue on water-related diseases will be explored.

“Water related diseases are common in all three locations where Health on Stage will take place,” says Rakesh S Soans, President of FSL India. He adds, “The most challenging as well as exciting part of the project will be when international volunteers and local participants communicate this public health concern through forum theatre.”

An Open Day will be organised on 30th September. Participants and organisers will then share their insights about the project with representatives from the media, NGOs and other interested parties. More details about the registration will be shared later at www.asef.org

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