CHANGING LIVES & COMMUNITIES
The Red Pencil works towards behavioral change in terms of building our beneficiaries’ confidence and resilience.
Here are some examples of how our missions have contributed to improving their participants’ lives.
Our data reveals that clients who underwent arts therapy sessions with The Red Pencil (Singapore) significantly improved their self-confidence and emotional well-being, as well as their ability to express emotions and thoughts:
Source: Data collected over a 12-month period through the Enhanced Programme evaluation System (EPES) by National Council of Social Service (NCSS) between April 2017 and March 2018.
By helping our beneficiaries strengthen their resilience and fortitude, our programmes aim to ultimately make a positive impact on entire communities.
Here is an example with our 2017 3-Step arts therapy programme for women in Uganda.
The Women Who Saw Hope
Uganda has a long history of political instability, as well as health and poverty issues. Despite the improvement it has made in fighting poverty over the past years, the country is yet to make marked progress in areas of sanitation, child malnutrition and education.
84.2% of Ugandans live in rural areas where agriculture is, for most households, used for subsistence rather than for earning monetary income.
Uganda being an agrarian economy that is very labour intensive, women have multiple jobs: they do most of the work to help the home, grow their food, and take care of the children. They are mostly responsible for digging the garden to find food and store it and to fetch water from the well.
Early marriage is common. Girls as young as 12 years old may be forced to marry an older man and denied the opportunity to go to school. If there is money available, boys are given the chance to go to school.
The average size of the families is 7-8 members per household, with men seeing having many children as a sign of wealth and virility and women rarely having a say in the amount of children they have.
In Uganda, there is an unspoken belief that if a wife does something her husband does not approve of, she deserves to be beaten. Most of the women who participated in the Arts Therapy programme were victims of domestic violence.
Most of the women in our programme have never been to school, or even stepped foot in a classroom. For many women present, this was the first time they had ever used a pencil or drawn on a piece of paper.
The women were so excited to come to the sessions. In the beginning, they may have been a bit hesitant because they were afraid of making a mistake. But with the necessary encouragement and assurance, they were able to be more comfortable with their creations.
They began talking about things they wanted to do with the new skills they had learned. They wanted to learn in order to create things and then later sell them to be able to earn an income so they wouldn’t have to rely on their husbands. The women also began to come together as a community and support one another.
They had been so focused on survival that they didn’t make time to get to know each other. Many of the women had felt isolated and alone, but now they were becoming each other’s friends. By sharing their thoughts and feelings to the group, they began to feel supported and to understand themselves and others better. They began to think about what they wanted and what they needed.
At the end of the second step, the arts therapist left them with supplies donated from people in their community. They agreed to meet once a week to make art. They were excited to have this to look forward to.
When the third step started, the women began to show signs of self-confidence, in their art making and in using their voice to say what they wanted to say.
With each step, the women became more and more empowered, and this clearly showed in their work. They were open about their dreams and goals, and what they wanted as opposed to what was expected of them.
They each had ideas of the kinds of skills they wanted to learn in order to create products to sell. These skills ranged from sewing table cloths, to making pottery, to weaving baskets, to owning music equipment to offer music for parties.
The women began to realize they had rights. They began to see that they could change their lives for the better.
“I learned to unite with others, how to talk to others and make friends."
At the end of the third and final step, they all intended to continue with their weekly art-making group. Even the elder women had plans to do more training so they could learn how to create products they could later sell.
Some decided they wanted to become a nurse, a teacher or other jobs they had never dreamed of before: “I have a lot of happiness, I want to learn to be a nurse to help the women."
The women became happier. They loved creating art and they loved what the groups offered them.
They had found a place to be seen, heard and acknowledged.
They had found the strength and power to be themselves
and be proud of who they are.