Feb 10, 2023 | Blog, Events, Peace Education
By Juhi Adhikari (19) Undergraduate Student at Tribhuvan University & MAP Nepal Youth Researcher
Caption: MAP Nepal young researchers using participatory approaches (2022)
Last year I was selected to join the International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE 2022) in Mexico. I was the youngest participant among 50, all working on peace education, either as an educator or researcher/practitioner. I chose the theme “Girls expressing themselves through Musical Dialogue” from my experience with MAP Nepal research. In order to provide a secure space, especially for young girls who are unable to discuss their life experiences, I used the Musical Dialogue activity from the Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) Manual for my workshop at the International Institute of Peace Education (IIPE Mexico 2022). As a young woman researcher, I’ve always believed that most girls experience unforgettable life events at least once at a young age, which have an impact on us both physically and mentally. As a girl, we may have experienced harassment at least once anywhere: at home by family members, in a public vehicle, or even at school by our teachers. Women experience numerous family issues in addition to harassment, because they are often responsible for managing the household.
However, many girls are unable to convey inner feelings to anyone. It might be because of fear that we are constantly being assessed by society that we are unable to freely communicate what we have been through. There is a prevalent belief that even if you are harassed by men, it is your fault. This belief may stem from the type of clothing that you are wearing, but boys/men are never to blame. Always, it’s “you.”
As a result, I could see that the Musical Dialogue module from the MAP manual would be a tremendous benefit for me and others. That’s why I chose this activity to showcase with the IIPE 2022 participants how this one MAP methodology can provide safe space for dialogue amongst girls who have had bitter experiences. Undoubtedly this method aids in assisting the girls’ sentiments. Through this exercise, I have seen girls foster a sense of trust among their peers and freely share their experiences. Since verbal communication is not the only means by which we may share and convey our emotions. We can express empathy for others through nonverbal means such as art and dialogue. The ability to “walk in someone else’s shoes” fosters a much deeper emotional connection. Empathy is extremely powerful since it calls for a deeper understanding of the other person’s thoughts and feelings. I chose this module for my workshop in Mexico for that reason.
My workshop experience: How did I start?
I explained at the beginning of the workshop that the participants should imagine themselves as young ladies between the ages of 10 and 15 and convey their true feelings as they go along. After that, I turned on some upbeat music and gave participants cues to move around the space, such as “Move as fast as you can,” “Move as slow as you can,” “Move as far as you can,” “Go to your favorite corner of the room,” and “Move around the room, and notice the colors or shapes in the room.”
I then instructed them to link elbows with the person closest to them as soon as the music turned off. For a few rounds, I gave the participants a discussion question after the music stopped and they then formed pairs joined at the elbow. The pairs alternately gave their views on each question they were asked. Examples of those initial discussion questions were:
- Describe yourself in one action or emotion?
- Your preferred cuisine?
- Something about you that I’m unaware of?
- What did you do as soon as you woke up?
- Have you got a dog?
These types of questions helped to forge bonds and with these kinds of opening conversations, the participants felt at ease and free.
After these simple questions were explored, I could see and feel that the atmosphere in the room had already changed: individuals had begun to trust their peers and calmly listen. As a result, I raised the bar and asked the following key questions about these activities:
- Who or what inspires you, and why?
- What aspects of your life do you feel grateful for, and why?
- Why are you so satisfied with yourself?
- What has been your most memorable and joyful experience?
- What has been your life’s most tragic moment?
- Your long-kept secret that you’ve been reluctant to share?
After the discussion ended, I could see that participants were hugging and crying as a result: delighted to share things that they would have never shared if the questions hadn’t been posed in this way. They were sobbing joyfully and had the impression that they were heard and understood.
I was quite thrilled and moved to witness how this straightforward activity led to the development of connection, respect, empathy, and trust among the participants. I then invited each participant to take a seat in a designated location before moving on to these reflection questions:
- I asked them how they felt after participating in this activity.
- What do they think about using this activity to have young girls talk about their problems?
- What difficulties did they encounter during these activities?
I observed that revealing a secret in a safe space was both emotional and liberating. I could feel how happy they were. When we are unable to communicate, we can feel ourselves being confined within our bodies. I recall that I had this kind of harassment frequently as a teenager, and that I covered it up. I felt lonely, stressed, and incredibly anxious. However, whilst saying it the first time made me feel terrible and depressed. Thankfully, those emotions faded, and a much deeper satisfaction developed in their place.
A few participants even answered when I inquired about any changes that I could possibly make to the task by saying, “We never know how to answer that question.” It seemed to me that for our group it was a powerful experience, and as it was, perfect. In an ideal world, with more time, I guess it would be a good idea to go slowly from happiness to trauma and end up with something happy too.”
When asked for feedback and if getting along with others in groups was simple or difficult, a few participants added, “It was simple, but we must take into account that we already liked everyone who was in their group.”
Here is the poetic Facebook post from one of the participants, after he attended the workshop.
PLAYING OUT OF SILENCE (an abridged version)
Is this my body? I ask in silence.
I don’t always own your heartbeat.
They touch it, smile, turn it on and leave me.
Alone, on an island of numb fear.
Ideas that pop, you feel them gather…
Is this my body?
From your flesh, I hide in silence.
In the hidden confusion the rage
In the mist, I hide my desires.
Are these my wishes?
-Girl- I tell another girl a secret
My body… they touch, smile, turn on and leave me.
A tear streaming down her face, too…
We play five together, dance, look at each other.
And playin’ and dancin’ this body too mine.
International Institute on Peace Education
Apr 6, 2021 | Events, International Youth Policy, Peace Education, Regional Youth Policy, Resources, Toolkits for Youth, Toolkits to Inform Policy, Uncategorized
Mobile Arts for Peace is a hub for resources and toolkits relating to arts-led peacebuilding initiatives. MAP’s website features recommendations for practitioners and researchers. The contents are the sole responsibility of The Office of the special representative of the secretary-general on violence against children
“We are in the midst of a new era of child engagement, where children are to be considered partners and key players in achieving change. Children are acting against violence and being part of the solution everywhere, taking forward positive change, working as partners with adults and young people.
As part of the mandate’s goal to promote meaningful participation, amplify children’s voices and actions and leave no one behind, the Special Representative took forward a mapping exercise to understand how children are taking part in today’s world, contributing with their views and solutions, and being agents of positive change.
Between April and November 2020, 245 case studies from 86 countries3 were reviewed,4 and in-depth dialogues were taken forward with 36 organizations working at global, regional, or country level.5 Additionally, through UNICEF’s U-Report, almost 5000 children from all geographical regions aged 13 – 18 were polled regarding their experiences regarding COVID-19.
This report provides an overview of the different actions taken forward by children mostly in times of COVID-19, but not limited to it. It looks at children’s diverse roles when helping to prevent, address, and report violence (including supporting their peers); it helps to understand how children are contributing and being part of the solutions when thinking about building back better, and how children are helping accelerate fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It showcases how children are collaborating with adults and with decision makers, and how children are proving to be agents of change. The report also addresses the many challenges organizations and children have faced in times of COVID-19, including those posed by digital channels when taking forward participation, reaching the hardest to reach, and having regular communication with children disrupted.”
Jan 27, 2021 | Blog, Events, International Youth Policy, Resources, Uncategorized
Hosted from the 25th-20th November 2020, the Eighth Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival (HRIFF) celebrated the films and filmmakers that spotlight human rights causes and change people’s lives across the world.
The Human Rights Film Center, a MAP partner in Nepal, has organised the HRIFF each year since 2010. Due to COVID-19, this is the first year in which the HRIFF has been hosted online. In 2020, the HRIFF shortlisted 52 films from 29 different countries for this year’s festival. Selected films spanned various formats and topics, from documentary shorts to animations and full-length features about mental health, war, migration, and child soldiers, to list a few topics. In 2020, HRIFF streamed to 100,000 people worldwide, with viewers in countries including the UK, France, Cambodia, and Nepal.
Mobile Arts for Peace was co-partner on the film festival, alongside other supporters, including the European Union, International Organization for Migration, and the Association of Youth Organizations in Nepal.
Highlights of the HRIFF include:
Mobile Arts for Peace documentary (dir. Deus Kwizera, Kwetu Film Institute, Kigali Rwanda).
The HRIFF was the first international premiere of the MAP documentary which focused on MAP’s Ubwuzu project (2019-2020) and documented MAP’s effort to use the MAP methodology to inform Rwanda’s Curriculum Framework and provide arts-based training for educators and young people in each province in Rwanda.
Chitrapuri Nagar (dir. Rajeela Shrestha, Nepal)
In Nepal, a historical route trod for centuries by legions of travellers was suddenly abandoned after the construction of the Tribhuvan Highway. This film focuses on the ancient village at the site, Chitrapuri Nagar, which remains of great socio-cultural importance.
Soundless Dance (dir, Pradeepan Raveendran, France).
In the spring of 2009, Sri Lanka’s decade’s long civil war is entering its most violent phase. Siva, a young Sri Lankan refugee living illegally in France, has lost contact with the family he was forced to leave behind. Haunted by the trauma of the war that devastated his childhood and obsessed by the flow of images on the Internet, Siva sinks into a waking dream that propels him into the heart of the battlefield.
Can Art Stop Bullet: William Kelly’s Big Picture (dir. Mark Street, Australia)
Can Art temper violence when politics and reason fails? Can art stop bullets? Through the voices of some of the world’s most socially engaged artists and thinkers, William Kelly explores the role of art in achieving change in times of crisis.
Read the full programme for full details of the HRIFF programme
Report from Nepal International Human Rights Film Festival
Nov 22, 2020 | Blog, Events, Resources
Written by: Danae Chatzinikoli and Stefania Vindrola.
Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) and Changing the Story (CTS) hosted a three-day conference from 5 – 7 August in collaboration with the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in Rwanda. The conference focused on encouraging child and youth participation through arts-based methods to inform policy and decision-making. It was an opportunity for MAP facilitators, master trainers, policymakers, organisations, partners and participants from Rwanda, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, the United Kingdom and other countries, to interact through both physical and online spaces.
While attending, the concept of ‘participation’ took many different forms. As in most conferences, one could participate by observing, actively participating or both. But due to the new reality that Covid-19 has imposed, alternative ways of participating were introduced. This conference had people participating by being in the conference rooms practicing social distancing, but it also had most of its participants, actively participating from their spaces all around the world online. Time-zones, connectivity and distances were merged into this event. Talks were delivered online from many different places and discussions were made between people who were on opposite sides of the planet. That surely changes the concept of participation and respects the ‘right to participate’ in a different manner. Under normal circumstances, the right to participate would be respected by allowing anyone relevant wishing to participate. Having a specific location for the event would exclude anyone who was not geographically available; therefore, keeping the event limited to people already at the location or those able to travel there. Of course, that creates other types of inequalities in terms of connectivity. Not everyone has access to the internet, and not everyone has a device they can use at any time. But what worked really well for this specific event is that it was hybrid, by having participants both online and in person. It allowed anyone from anywhere to participate eliminating any spatial difficulties that would otherwise limit them. Equally, it allowed young people in Rwanda – who would potentially have had connectivity issues due to a low internet access – to be involved directly. Therefore, the MAP-CTS event was able to equally promote the ‘right to participation’ going beyond social differences that might affect it.
Despite social distancing measures and restrictions, the conference allowed young people to voice their opinions and suggestions in relation to social issues in Rwandan society. It offered them a space to be, act and feel as citizens and exercise their right to participate and be heard. This is remarkable because young people are often perceived as ‘not-yet-adults’: individuals who have not yet developed the competency, rationality and maturity of adults (Uprichard, 2008). As a result, their ideas and opinions do not receive the attention they deserve. The MAP – CTS conference was structured in a way that promoted youth participation throughout the three days. Every session included moments for young people to express their thoughts and answer questions from policymakers and other attendees. Furthermore, their feelings and ideas – represented in a theatre presentation they performed – were the starting point for further group discussions. Throughout the event, young people were involved as much (if not even more) as adult participants. This reflects that, within the MAP-CTS Project, the right to participate is not ‘given’ to young people but otherwise is constructed on the basis of horizontal relations with adults. According to Lundy (2007), children’s right to participate should be guaranteed in a safe and inclusive space, and with adults that listen (not just hear) actively to their voices. This was clear during the MAP-CTS conference not only because of the high youth participation rate, but also because of the inclusion of a diverse range of participants from different ages, gender and school levels. Moreover, the right to participate was not an imposition from adults; during the group discussions young people were always asked if they would be willing to express their opinion as a way to show them it was entirely their decision and that it was safe to do it.
The MAP – CTS Project encourages children and young people to realise that they can and have the right to participate in broader society. This will motivate them to raise their voices with more impetus and strength, but will also have a significant impact on the way they are conceptualised by other generations. The Project goes beyond common stereotypes that tend to consider young people as irresponsible individuals who always get in trouble and cannot control their actions and emotions (Brown, 2009). It contributes to changing the image we have about them and positions them as valuable contributors and shapers of society. For example, one of the aims of the MAP – CTS Project is to connect young people with policy-makers through art-based methods. By doing that, the ‘right to participate’ is again respected in multiple ways. Firstly, young people have the opportunity to participate in a project that allows them to practice their right. Within the project and its workshops, the young people are trained and then train other people in the arts-based methodology. The methodology acts as a tool to reach the next step of the project which is the promotion of peace-building and constructive change. Through the process of being trained and then potentially training others, young people claim their right to participate. There is not some authority that allows them to do so, the training and learning is the enabler in the specific context.
MAP – CTS Project bridges childhood and youth with the policy-making arena. This is an interesting connection because, in the public discourse, political debates and policy-making are activities usually restricted to adults. The Project opens new possibilities for young people and extends their right to participate from their inner realities (family and school) towards their local contexts more broadly. Young people’s views are the pillar of the Project, the reason that connects adults, teachers and policy-makers, and enables them to construct relations with the aim of fostering social changes. In this sense, MAP-CTS promotes a ‘right to participation’ that goes beyond a tokenistic approach and takes young people’s views seriously (Lundy, 2018). Additionally, the Project allows children and young people to understand how policy-making works, how policy documents are created and enacted by different social actors. Therefore, apart from its goal of connecting young people and policy-makers through arts-based methods, MAP – CTS is also a way for the former to learn how society functions every day.
Through this short analysis, it becomes clear that the MAP-CTS Project contributes to rethinking young people’s ‘right to participation’. It does so both by its structure and practically. This specific event can be thought of as a paradigm of how this Project respects children’s and young people’s ‘right to participate’ and of how the response to Covid-19 can create new paths to thinking about participation.
Brown, K. (2009). Children as Problems, Problems of Children. In Qvortrup, J., Corsaro, W. & Honig, M-S. (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Childhood Studies (pp. 256 – 272). London: Palgrave MacMillan.
Lundy, L. (2007). ‘Voice’ is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. British Educational Research Journal, 33(6), 927 – 942.
Lundy, L. (2018). In defence of ‘tokenism’? Implementing children’s right to participate in collective decision-making. Childhood, 25(3), 340 – 354.
Uprichard, E. (2008). Children as ‘Being and Becomings’: Children, Childhood, Temporality. Children & Society, 22, 303 – 313.
Nov 22, 2020 | Blog, Events, Resources
Written by Di Wu
A 3-day event was hosted by the Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) and Changing the Story (CTS), in collaboration with the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in Rwanda. The event aimed at using art-based approaches to engage young people, educators, cultural artists and policy makers to influence curriculum and policy-making for peacebuilding. The event provided a rich and dynamic platform that enabled participants from Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Nepal, Cambodia, Ugand, and other countries to actively build conversation, share ideas and find solutions by addressing the young people’s theatre play, story-telling and other art-based activities despite the time and geographical differences across the countries as well as the limited conditions caused by Covid-19.
As the founder of MAP Professor Ananda Breed said, “in terms of the projects, there is building of art skills, creative thinking, well being and a space or environment in which young people feel abled to share stories in a deep and meaning ways and apply their stories to influence others, to find solutions to those problems in their community.” In other words, the project enables young people to voice their views and assert their agency through creative and expressive means. In the study of childhood, children and young people are recognized as ‘voiceless’ due to the lack of power and their minor position in relation to adults. It is true that children and young people are restrained by the limited platforms to express their voices. Even though they increasingly participate in different programs, organizations and governments due to the promotion of children’s rights, there is still a gap between practice and policy and the programs are often “tokenistic, unrepresentative in membership, adult-led in process, and ineffective in acting upon what children want”. 
Portraying children and young people as ‘voiceless’ tends to neglect the fact that they are able to utilize art tools, such as theatre play, story telling and music to expressing their agency in creative, articulate and meaningful ways and therefore to negotiate their position in adult-dominant world and actively engage in the political arenas.  Through a series of activities including a curriculum workshop, training of trainers and drama clubs organized by MAP, children and young people are expected to be at the centre, voicing their everyday lives in the complex social and cultural contexts through bodily actions, theatre and musical performance and other creative methods in order to build dialogue, influence and challenge their relationships with parents, communities and wider social structures. MAP Rwanda youth trainer Sandrine said that there was a big difference between before and after engaging with MAP. Before being part of MAP, she was a very fearful person who could not stand in front of people. After engaging with MAP, she feels free and can stand in front of people and express her ideas clearly.
The MAP methodology also ensures that the adult educators are able to better understand their students from a new perspective and therefore develop and improve the curriculum and learning environment accordingly. A MAP research participant from Rwanda stated that he used MAP activities including drama plays to prepare lesson plans and learners were more motivated and interested. Those activities enable young people to find ways to solve their own problems that are there in society; to clarify the root causes, the consequences, and to find solutions. It is through that platform that the school principals know the problems students have and they try to search for the solutions together.
So far, MAP has reached 250 educators and 2,000 young people in Rwanda and more educators, youth facilitators and students in Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia and Nepal. The MAP approach provides creative means for young people to express concerns and ideas through multiple methods t and to be heard, which therefore builds dialogue among young people, trainers, communities and policy makers to identify and find solutions for peacebuilding.
 Taft, J. K. (2015). “Adults talk too much”: Intergenerational dialogue and power in the Peruvian movement of working children. Childhood, 22(4), 460-473.
 Emberly, A., & Davhula, L. A. (2016). My music, my voice: Musicality, culture and childhood in Vhavenda communities. Childhood, 23(3), 438-45