“We were not made – only to wash dishes launder clothes, mow lawns…”
These words are recited loudly by a girl still in her teens – her passion for women’s rights and more than an uneducated village life is shining through her speech. It is a poem called “Freedom” written by the Ghanaian author Aba Oppong and forms part of a series of workshops by two Danish volunteers from “100% for the Children”.
Moderated by Camilla Olesen and Kristoffer Bressum, who employed their university background in literature to create a project titled ”Poetic Empowerment: Youth in Dialogue”. It aims at establishing an intercultural exchange between Danish and Ghanaian youth through the use of poetry.
The project involves teaching children how to take notice of themselves by writing literature while encouraging them with the fact that they can learn about other cultures by reading foreign poetry.
During the workshops, participants first get to describe themselves by writing letters to Danish students before using their voice to produce poetry. The workshop places maximum emphasis on creativity emphasize, which is often neglected in education.
“Writing and reading poetry may teach them how to think beyond themselves, but also get to know themselves better – indeed, it has the potential to create independence and expand their consciousness” said Olesen.
With Catholic Action for Street Children, Rural Education for Empowerment Programme as partners and support from Civilsamfund I Udvikling in Denmark, the primary goal of the workshops is to give the young boys and girls tools to use their own voices and become empowered to tell their personal stories through poetry.
“Their poems will be distributed in a poetry collection printed by a Danish university press. The assembled collection will be brought back to the partners as an educational material with a purpose of further using poetry and creative writing to continue the empowerment of young and youthful voices”, added Bressum.
“Poetic Empowerment: Youth in Dialogue 2017” is a project that focuses on character building and intercultural communication between Danish and Ghanaian youth.
The aim is to enhance the youngsters’ awareness and understanding of issues regarding gender, identity and equality through seminar-sessions of reading and discussing poems and novels by Ghanaian and West African authors.
It will focus on how poetry can be creatively used to empower individual and collective voices by also carrying out a workshop in creative writing with a specific goal of making the youth produce a selection of personal material.