Once again a hit the beat project has come to an end. This year the project was embedded in the PEPFAR sponsored project: “Silent words – sing out loud!” during which the entire high school was part of an AIDS prevention project. For three weeks in June, the learners once again chose different workshops in drumming, stick fighting, dancing, poetry and garbage music, and of course everyone participated in the choir. In many areas themes concerning AIDS were portrayed: for instance the dancers tried to show different types of relationships and of course the poetry was fully focussed on the topic. Many poems had been written by the learners themselves during our project week in February – it was very touching to hear how the learners described AIDS in connection with fear and courage, but also hope for new forms of respectful relationship. In addition, the choir tried to touch this theme by singing songs like “That’s what friends are for”, or “Give us hope”.
After our dear drummer Tony Muirhead passed away and could not participate in the project, we discovered three local artists: Faizel Browney (dance), Nyasha Joshua Kuchekana-Chirau (drums), Tapuwanasche Munyayi (drums) who took on workshops and added in fiery African rhythms. Retha Landsberg (tambourines) and Norman Skillen (poetry) also joined in with workshops adding new colors. Sarah Situde, a former learner at WSW, conducted and sang African choir pieces. And, as in the past years, Carmen Voigt (dance), Luigi Scarano (poetry) and Felix Spitta (hip hop/camera) were the center of our dynamic team. Gonzo ‘n Friends also came with a new constellation and proved once again to be very hardworking and enthusiastic with singer Markus Sprengler coaching amazing solos from the learners.
Throughout the three weeks the learners proved to be hardworking and enthusiastic about the entire program. An exciting rhythmic pulse could be experienced throughout the day and it was very impressive to see every year how the learners become more creative and more independent in developing their own ideas and choreographies. The teamwork was amazing, as well as the fact that many learners took on leadership tasks and workshop leaders could lean back and let the learners take over in some areas.
The idea behind the AIDS project was to develop high self-esteem and assertive behaviour which are the key qualities necessary in any prevention programme – this aim was certainly reached – how wonderfully proud the learners stood on stage and promoted their message: “AIDS is real but we can do something about it by taking on responsibility and acting as well as speaking out and then we become unstoppable!”
I enjoyed every moment of the project, every single learner grew close to my heart and the continuous support and backup of the teachers at WSW was fantastic. I very much look forward to continuing this work – WSW can be proud of its learners indeed!
Simone de Picciotto (Project director and former teacher at WSW)