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African Diaspora Community Develop & Perform Play

In March 2017, a group of members of the African diaspora developed and performed in a theatre production Uncomfortable Conversations in a Foreign Land. The project was done in partnership between FORWARD and Grinnell College and a number of FORWARD’s Community Champions took part.

In the production you can hear a collection of stories that look at the difficulties of integration, identity and abandoning harmful traditions. It was developed over 2 months from focus group work with men, women and young people from various African diaspora communities in London, and all the stories are real. With little to no experience in performing arts, the actors worked on the production to bring real stories from the community to the public.

The play was developed with the assistance of Lesley Delmenico, an Associate of Grinnell College. She directs and teaches acting and performance studies as well as theatre history, postcolonial and post-war British drama. Her research continues in intercultural and community-based performance. Each performance was followed by a panel discussion involving health workers, anti-FGM organisations and members of the Men Speak Out against FGM project. Our special thanks to playwright Charlene James (writer of Cuttin’ It) for the acting workshops; to Faiha Yousif, Omolayo Joy Ajetunmubi, Oluwaseun Okeniyi, Sharon Otim and FORWARD community champions for helping develop the concept of the production.

This is an ongoing project and we hope to perform Uncomfortable Conversations in a Foreign Land across the UK later in the year to highlight the important conversations which are often hidden.

Full info here.

New Report Published on 8 Year ‘Best Practice’ Programme to end FGM in Bristol

FORWARD has released a new report about our work in Bristol, Hanna Ahmed is one of the women who trained to be a Community Health Advocate, “The trainings have given me the feeling that I can do something, that I can take a lead. Why not me? I’m a busy mother of four young children but my youngest has now started pre-school. The teachers at the school often ask me to help with parents who need translation. I had an idea. Why not set up a parenting group at my children’s school? I talked about this with Layla [FORWARD Bristol Officer]. We arranged a meeting with the head of the school and the school were very supportive. They offered the hall, tea and coffee, one morning per week. Everything I learnt from the training I want to bring to the group. I’m not going to keep my knowledge in the bottom of a cupboard. I need to share it. The aim is that parents would support each other, with parents who have older children or who have more experience helping other parents and helping them communicate with the school or outside agencies. I’m also aware that FGM will come up as an issue. I know that some people are still doing type 1, as they think it is not really FGM. There needs to be more awareness for parents.”

You can read about our role in what is now called the Bristol ‘best practice model’ on tackling FGM in our report: Bristol Community Project on FGM which you can read here.

Full report here