Zimbabwe: Cont, Street Kids Join Forces

Zimbabwe: Cont, Street Kids Join Forces
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

18 November 2007
Posted to the web 18 November 2007

STUNG by the lack of support for homeless children, three of the country’s leading arts personalities have gone onto the streets in search of stage actors.

A group of street kids — now known as Young Blood — taken off Bulawayo’s wide streets could soon be making waves on the stage scene, if an ambitious project comes to fruition.

Cont Mhlanga, the founder and special projects director of Amakhosi Cultural Centre, has teamed up with prolific actress Sarah Mpofu and another Bulawayo based actor, Mitchell Dzimwasha to turn children living rough on the streets into full-time thespians.

Mhlanga said of the project recently: "When this project was initiated these kids used to receive food and clothing from us, but this time around we have decided to take their responsibility levels a bit higher."

After two months of thorough acting workshops, the street kids finally staged their first performance two weeks ago.

They acted at a function organised for HIV and Aids infected children, on ARVs at Mpilo Opportunistic Infections Unit.

Mpofu told Standardplus: "The street kids staged a piece that was a reflection of their lives. One might wonder why street kids had to go and tell stories about their lives at such a function. The main purpose of their performance was to expose the kids to the world of art and also to teach them to be responsible in life. They were paid like all professionals."

Tomorrow, Young Blood will perform in front of a bigger crowd at Amakhosi. Mhlanga said: "The play they are working on will work as forum theatre since we are planning to invite people from different governmental and non-governmental institutions that look after kids for a short discussion concerning children around Zimbabwe."

The project intends to provoke a discussion with the government and other civic community groups on how to reduce cases of children leaving home to roam the streets, and how best to look after or rehabilitate those housed in institutions.

Besides performing on stage, the street children do piece jobs during weekends to raise money for their daily needs. To add to their career options, the children are now attending workshops on how to play musical instruments.

Dzimwasha said: "The kids project is set to reach greater heights, but our main challenge at the moment is funding. A comfortable, domestic atmosphere has to be created where these young people live. We need money to make that possible. We are appealing to well-wishers for funding to make all this possible for our future stars."

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