Suitcase Stories builds safe youth communities that heal trauma through sharing and performing their life stories in refugee camps/center
What problem does your innovation solve?
Suitcase stories gives refugee youth an opportunity to build a safe space, make amends with their past and heal from trauma, to connect with likeminded people, acquire new skills ( language skills, creativity, critical thinking, reflective thinking, self-awareness, confidence, presenting, collaboration, communication) have fun, build hopes for the future and share their story with a wider audience all around to find a sense of belonging.
Suitcase Stories targets opportunity areas 2, 3 and 4.
Explain your innovation.
Imagine a refugee camp. A big, beautiful, leather and bright coloured suitcase arrives. Inside are many little suitcases, with individual designs and a little book. The book tells a story about an ex-refugee, her horrific but heroic story followed by an epilogue of where she is now and her hopes for the future.
The big suitcase comes with foldable stage floor which can be laid anywhere on the premises to create a performance sphere and literally gives these youth a platform to tell their stories.
It also comes with an instruction manual for a camp volunteer/supervisor that explains how to run the program and facilitate the healing process and building of a safe and hopeful youth community and how to create a script out of these stories and tools to stage and direct it plus what skills it hopes to enhance and how to trigger them ( language, literacy, creativity, critical thinking, social, communication, collaboration).
Each participant will receive a small suitcase to fill with their memories and stories.
At the moment 'Suitcase Stories' is already succesfully implemented on a micro scale for refugee youth that comes through an Intensive English Center in western Sydney. Together with a director/ english as a second language specialist and a counsellor a max. of 30 refugee youth get together on Sunday mornings to share their lives stories, which afterwards gets written in a script. They rehearse acting and staging the script of their stories and ultimately perform.
Any youth from the ages of 12+ that has been displaced and/or fled to other countries or are still in that process will benefit from Suitcase Stories. As long as the material can be send to that particular space, it's an nondanger zone and 2 volunteers are available and willing to run the process it can me implemented anywhere.
This also benefits the wider community in these areas as they will find that sense of belonging and understanding when they watch the performanes of Suitcase Stories. I imagine one-off workshops to be ran by the participants with the audience after the performance to give them the opportunity to share their story.
Ultimately, as I hope the performances to be filmed, it will be shared with the entire world, building on their understanding and respect for refugees as mutual human beings.
Also, once these refugees are settled in a new country, that country will benefit as these kids are less likely to need aid and more likely to provide their own livelyhoods.
How is your innovation unique?
Suitcase Stories is unique as it's a cost effective, easy to implement solution that adresses varies problems at once through a fun and vibrant process that not only impacts the participants, but the community and anyone around the world that want's to see it.
What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?
some possible issues/questions
- Are camp volunteers capable of running Suitcase Stories successfully or do we need tot send specialists and/or train them face to face
- The program ran by Treehouse Theatre is evaluated as successful and of great impact to its stakeholders. however this is only run in Australia, thus after the ( spacial) journey of refugees have been completed. will it be as successful if it's implemented during this journey ( in refugee camps) isn't tested yet.
Tell us more about you.
I'm a master student ( business) in Sydney, Australia.
I work part time as a self-employed choreographer and dance teacher and I'm very interested in the Performing Arts as a social-transformative tool in any field.
For one of my subjects this semester I observed an organisation called Threehouse Theatre, Which is the one in Western Sydney ( Liverpool) that runs Suitcase Stories through high schools and IEC. This is a non-for-profit independant organisation.
What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?
Emergency Setting - Elaborate
Suitcase Stories sets around high refugee areas, therefore most suited emergency settings are Refugee Camps and Asylum centres. I think that it could also work in conflict areas as long as there as a 'safe space' somewhere to run the gatherings.
Where will your innovation be implemented?
I'm not enough of an expert to estimate in which refugee area Suitcase Stories will be most succesfull.
Experience in Implementation Country(ies)
I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for less than a year.
Sector Expertise - Elaborate
I have a bachelor in education and dance and 5+ years experience as a dance, musical theatre and vocal trainer to youth aged 4 - 22 in the private and school sectors.
Treehouse Theatre has been running their refugee programs for 5+ yeras
Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.
We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.
Treehouse Theatre is based in Liverpool, Sydney at Miller HighSchool and the Miller Intensive English Center.
I'm personally based in Sydney as well.