Because music and dance are traditional methods of communicating and educating in the Ugandan culture, this medium was used as a vehicle to deliver health and human services in an IDP camp in Soroti, East Uganda.
Through a grant from the US Embassy, the Kampala Jazz All-Stars, a jazz band performing jazz and Ugandan music, carried out this initiative in conjunction with the peace organization Jamii Ya Kupatanisha (JYAK), which had organized a multi-cultural youth camp with the theme “Solidarity for IDP’s”. The day before the band performed, some of the band members went into the camps, they helped build houses, clean the compounds and collect and remove trash. The band also contacted and conducted a music workshop with a well-known band in Soroti. This facilitated this local band joining the performance and playing with the All Stars and on their own for the IDPs.
The utility of the performance was enhanced when Caravaan founders came up with the idea of inviting several health NGOs to set up tents and tables on the periphery of the audience. This enabled them to provide health and other services to the residents of the IDP camp. During the intermission of the performance, the PA system was made available to the NGOs allowing them to address the audience, explain their objectives and invite the audience to engage in the services being provided.
The outcome was a complete success. In the 4-hour period of this performance over 200 people voluntarily utilized the AIDS counseling and testing services provided in a combined effort by TASO and AIDS Information Center (AIC). Other notable organizations and institutions involved included the Red Cross, the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development, as well as smaller organizations providing health and sanitation clinics and condom distribution. “The outcome was fantastic!”… The music creates an atmosphere that the organizations involved concluded “destigmafied the decision of whether to be tested for AIDS publicly”. The organizers of TASO were astounded that in several hours they ran out of the 200 test kits they had brought. Normally, in their clinic in this particular camp, they would conduct one or two of these test procedures a day.
Apart from enhancing the uptake of health care services, we also hoped to draw attention to the situation in the camps of the internally displaced people. We were advocating for an end to the war so that people could return to their home villages and could live in peace. A music performance like the one carried out draws media attention and therefore facilitates the advocacy work.
It also shows solidarity with the people in the camps and contributes to national reconciliation in a country where the North and South struggle to find peaceful and common ground.
Check out the project that this lead to HERE