Theatre has long been recognised as a powerful tool to inform, promote self-awareness in the spectators and inspire them to take action for social change. So, when World Vision and its partner, the Palestinian Hydrology Group, looked for the best approach to raise awareness on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in rural communities, theatre was an obvious choice.
Soon after the project was launched, they started to perform a theater play titled “Habeeb and Najib” in 25 rural communities in the West Bank. The play, a comedy led by two main characters arguing endlessly about events of their daily lives, shares messages designed to increase the preparedness of communities to disaster including disease outbreaks.
“The show was amazing, and I could not stop laughing. The programme addressed significant issues for my community and helped us to think about how to react to events about which we had very little information,” says Shadi, a teacher.
What makes “Habeeb and Najib” an effective way to change the way people think and act is that it is designed to trigger community dialogue, forcing the spectators to reflect on themselves and on how they act. It is also a very interactive show in which all community members - women, men, girls, boys and people with special needs - can join.
“The show was performed in a very fun and meaningful way, and it allowed our children to learn what to do in relation to WASH and DRR topics,” said Abeer, a member of a community village council.
This approach has proven to be a real success with children in the communities enjoying greatly the show and actively participating in it. “I learned a lot on how to prepare ourselves for any disaster. The show taught us how to act in case of earthquake and how to prepare a runaway bag and get the information from a reliable source, which is the village council, Municipalities or Civil Defense,” said Muhammad,14-years-old participant of the performance.
“I learned about hygiene and how to maintain my home and school clean. I also learned about pandemics and to protect ourselves from diseases if we applied the correct health practices. I also now know types of disasters and how to deal with them,” said Sondos, 11-years-old, another participnat.
This play is part of the Building Resilience, Ensuring Preventive Hygiene in Water and Sanitation Systems, and Reducing Natural Disaster Risks at the School Level in Area C in the West Bank project. It targets 50 public schools to support more than 13,000 children in the Governorates of Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin, Tubas and Jericho. This project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and implemented by World Vision and the Palestinian Hydrology Group, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and other partners. The project aims to improve child-wellbeing and resilience of students in Area C in the West Bank.