As part of International Women’s Week, our fantastic facilitator Kate has been working with the Women Care Group, a group of refugee and asylum seeker women based at the Pakistani Community Association in Longsight. Funded by the South Manchester Law Centre the drama project was a 5 week process, with a view to building towards a performance on Monday 5th March.
Although focused towards making a performance in a very short space of time with participants from diverse cultures that have little or no knowledge of what constitutes a drama performance in this country, the result was truly heartening.
Here’s what Kate had to say about the project:
“These women are an inspiration! Despite their harrowing back stories and the issues they now face in this country the women in this group are warm and welcoming and most importantly act as an essential support for each other.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you come from you are welcome here. Here we are all women together.” -Group Member
If only all members of our communities took this view point. The group is a stabiliser for some members who have nothing- no structure, no home, NO STATUS. These women want to contribute to British society and their communities but fight a battle to do so. I discovered the women in this group are lawyers, knitters, singers, carers, multi linguists, skilled people that want to share these skills. Although I was a stranger coming into the group the at the first meeting I was hurried to a table, offered food and found myself laughing, chatting and sharing immediately. All women really are welcome here.
The group told me that they wanted people to have some understanding of the journey that asylum seekers face and so we devised a performance around this idea. The project was relatively short, however, seeing the confidence of the group rocket makes it clear that these women simply need an opportunity and a reason to gain confidence, something that one member identified as having had before but lost. Some women shared their own personal stories, or shared stories of their friends and family; we identified the similarities and differences between us and used these conversations as a foundation to create.
The whole group contributed to the performance in different ways and the group built in strength through this communal task. Despite language or cultural barriers the women worked side by side towards the group goal of showcasing their skills to the female community for International Women’s Week. We embraced the rich cultural diversity of the group and created a diverse performance which included language, gestures, dance and music from all countries. The day was a celebration!
I will take away with me the knowledge that women who are truly together in this way are a powerful force; they are powerful through inclusion, warmth and integrity.” - Kate
The performance on Monday and the event as a whole encompassing drama, dance, singing and music and lots of laughter despite the serious message showed the journey and the true nature of these inspirational women and we here at Act On Info are very proud to have in some small way given them a voice. We are look forward to continuing our drama work with refugee and asylum seeking people.