Working with ZDDT Has Opened Our Minds - YAH

Above: Behind the scenes of the puppet show.

BULAWAYO – Young At Heart (YAH), a local drama group that uses the medium of puppetry to convey messages on a variety of social issues, has said their association with the Zimbabwe Development Democracy Trust (ZDDT) has opened up the minds of their members.

YAH, in partnership with ZDDT, is imparting life skills to members of the community at the informal settlement at Bulawayo’s dumpsite, popularly known as Ngozi Mine.

The drama group also sensitizes residents on the need to secure birth certificates and other important documents for children as well helping them resolve gender-based violence issues, in the process, bringing peace to the community.

Above: Watching the puppet show.

“We have benefited a lot from working with ZDDT, especially on the importance of networking with other organisations,” said YAH Director, Bongani Hlatshwayo, affectionately known as Bongo.

“They (ZDDT) have also uplifted us because we have been trained on counselling; we were also taught on proposals writing. This has really opened up our minds.”

Bongo explained that, as a drama group, they can now stand on their own as they are now able to negotiate for better business deals whenever people engage them for their services.

“Before, we were just abused. People would just come and ask us to perform for peanuts but for now we are able to charge something that can sustain us,” he elaborated.

He said the community at Ngozi Mine appreciates very much their work with ZDDT in the area.

“People at Ngozi Mine like our work and they always stampede whenever they learn that we are coming. We have taught them so many things such that, even when we engage them, we are seeing a change,” Bongo said.

Above: Bongo and Nanzile.

He said they formed YAH in 2006 at Luveve Youth Centre having taken note of the challenges that young people go through as they grow up.

“We then thought of educating other young people about life challenges. We started going around schools teaching children. We were teaching them about HIV and AIDS, child abuse and other social ills,” he told ZDDT News.

The group, which was registered in 2013, also trains young people in drama, drawing, modelling and film shows.

“We have been working with different organisations as volunteers until we registered as a trust. We met ZDDT through competitions of dramas that were sponsored by Geraldine Roche Arts Foundation. Through our creativity, they then loved us because we used puppetry.”

Bongo said their future as YAH looks positive, adding their wish has always been to continue working together with ZDDT so the two organisations can make a positive difference at Ngozi Mine.