My Hetauda Experience

Anjana Nagarkoti

Anjana Nagarkoti, a youth researcher, shares her experience on how art-based learning methods can be an effective way to create social awareness among young people who want to learn and contribute to bringing change in their community. Here, she shares her 4-day research experience where she observed the learning style of the young participants at Jana Jagriti Secondary School, Hetauda in Nepal.

Anjana Nagarkoti, 6th Cohort of young researchers (YAARs)

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) is a research project led by the University of Lincoln that focuses on empowering young people through art-based methods to have a deeper knowledge of the policies that affect them. Our team  was led by Karkhana Samuha with co-investigators from Kathmandu University and Midwest University, specifically exploring the possibilities of involving youth to improve the education system in Nepal. 

In the Youth Advisory Advocacy Research (YAAR) project, I worked with a talented and creative group of 30 members. I worked closely with a team of seven people for this project. For this research project, we led an art based community program to explore the use of  theater-based methods for effective learning at Jana Jagriti Secondary School in Hetauda and studied its effects and efficacy. 

I along with a team member, studied the nature of participation as well as the effectiveness of reception of the information by participants, while the other 4 members facilitated the program.  We had a total of 15 participants from  grade 6, 7 and 8. 

Initially, the participants were hesitant to interact with the team, however, the program had been designed taking this possibility into account. The facilitators started with several ice-breakers such as introducing themselves with adjectives and actions and playing games to lighten the atmosphere which made everyone enthusiastic and interested throughout the session.  

During the session, participants had to work in teams and they acted as clay and sculptures to present social issues. They shared different perspectives on the displayed pictures and were able to understand social issues and brainstorm the solutions. They talked about a variety of social issues including, drug addiction, caste discrimination, child marriage, conflict in neighbourhoods, violence against women, sexual harassment, and child labor. They shared their ideas using several art-based methods to do so more effectively and even encouraged each other to engage. Overall, they did a great job presenting social issues and their solutions. Some of the solutions presented by the studentswere: Drug addiction can be reduced by prioritizing the need for education among children, child marriage can be potentially solved by making parents aware about relevant laws and encouraging them to educate their children, etc. This experience has reinforced the idea that using images and art is a great way to understand and communicate social issues. 

We were informed that it was the first time these students were participating in a program conducted by an external organization. As a researcher, I observed that the participants were able to express their problems to their friends and actively participate in group activities. Through this, I learned that everyone has a different and unique perception to understand the same thing. I also understood that a blanket approach to learning is not effective if we want to ensure a higher success rate am. Thus, learning can happen in several ways including Art based methods  It was interesting to note that even though everyone was taught the same thing, each participant had different learnings and takeaways from the session. 

The participants expressed their thought that along with their studies, they also need some extra curricular activities so they can better focus on their studies. They were able to express what they wanted using an art-based method. Everyone expressed that they found it easier to understand and remember things through the use of art-based tools in learning showing its effectiveness.

This blog was originally produced on the  Samaanta Foundation website (June 26th 2023)

The role of arts-based experience and cultural vitality for social transformation: reflections on MAP work

Dr. Michelle Cannon (Guest blogger)

My attendance at the online MAP Social Impact event on 30 March 2023 was a random encounter – a chance invite from a colleague who suggested I’d be interested in the project. I’m a lecturer at the UCL Knowledge Lab, UCL Institute of Education (IOE) London, and lead an MA in Digital Media: Education. My research focusses on new literacies, creative media arts, social and collaborative learning, and film-making with children. Having read a number of these blog posts, I can see strong connections between MAP aims and practices and the work of colleagues within a research network called ReMap (formerly named DARE) based at the Knowledge Lab. ReMap, run by Professor John Potter, is a collaboration between cultural organisations, academics, educators, artists and researchers to develop critical and creative practice in digital media arts, games and play.

I came with basic knowledge of the MAP project and was soon swept up in its scope and ambition, as international project leaders summarised their culturally rich and inspiring work geared towards peace and empathy. The MAP presentations were a refreshing reminder of the empowerment and agency that arts activities afford, and the radical potential of cultural pursuits to invite wonder, curiosity and social change. It’s been especially pleasurable to learn about MAP approaches that integrate and mobilise local knowledge and cultural specificity, and that invest deeply in indigenous teacher education to ensure project legacy. It seems to me that these approaches are as much about encouraging participants’ critical engagement as they are about developing enduring and enjoyable creative practices.

‘The MAP network’ Credit: Vina Pusita

Thinking about the energy and vigour that the MAP community of researchers and participants generate in their collaborative research practice, I’m put in mind of Freire’s classic emancipatory perspective on pedagogy (Freire 1993), and notably the idea of bringing into being new ways of seeing through praxis. MAP’s peace-building projects in communities spanning Indonesia, Rwanda, Nepal and Kyrgyzstan rehearse in concrete ways an inclusive and praxis-oriented approach to positive social transformation. According to Freire, praxis unites thought and action with egalitarian and civic purpose – it is as much about keeping a dialogue open with local stakeholders as it is about iterative acts of resistance (Cannon 2018). MAP methodology seems to embrace the following Freirean epistemology, that:

Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.
(Freire, 1993. p.53).

By developing complex and situated drama, music, dance, visual arts and media-making experiences for young people, MAP’s cultural programmes keep public channels of communication open, and conduits for local action primed, providing the optimum conditions for transformative initiatives to flourish in context.

Dr. Michelle Cannon []

Cannon, M. (2018). Digital Media in Education: Teaching, Learning and Literacy Practices with Young Learners. Palgrave Macmillan.

Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Penguin.

A video of the event can be viewed here:

Young women of Rwanda and Nepal, cycling in safe spaces, discussing, and challenging gender-based discriminatory proverbs


Principal Investigator – Picturing the past, present, and future in the imaginations, dreams and journeys taken by young women in Nepal and Rwanda

This blog provides a brief discussion on how young women in Rwanda and Nepal have taken part in cycling journeys to safe spaces (Gayle et al. 2013) for their reflection and conversations about the impact of gender-based discriminatory proverbs on women. How could their understanding of the past informed by their interpretations of these proverbs in the present share new ways of seeing the future roles for women in communities?

The approach taken by the study to create ‘safe spaces’ for this discussion in some ways is similar to that of Harvey et al. (2020). They worked in ‘safe parks’ to ‘provide young people with a stable, safe environment’ (pg.1) supporting them to find ways to have their voice not only heard, but also listened to in a highly hierarchical society.

This project recruited twenty five young women from Rwanda (16) and Nepal (9) from MAP associated schools to take bicycle journeys, enabling them to visit wider spaces of curiosity in their localities. In Rwanda, the young women came together with the project at the Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park in Kigali for their bicycling journeys and conversations. Whilst in Nepal, the young women came together at the Nocha Pokhari (Notcha Pond) in Janakpur.

In Rwanda, one of the proverbs discussed by the participants was: Ntaa nkokôkazi ibîka isaâke ihâri. (A hen cannot cluck when a cock is around). This in effect meaning that a women/wife/mother for example has no voice or power in the presence of a man/husband/father.

Five questions were put to the participants to support their reflections and discussions:

  1. Do you recognise this proverb?
  2. Have you ever heard anybody say this proverb? If Yes: Who was it?
  3. What do you think it means?
  4. Do you think this proverb was true or false in the past?
  5. What about now and the future: How do you see the meaning of this proverb?

Some of the young women recognised how this proverb framed women as secondary to men. For example, one respondent said:

“I think the past was scary for our grandmothers as they were not allowed to express their ideas.”

There was a similar response from another young woman, who said:

It is because in ancient time, women were not allowed to express what they think on the development of their families or other general concerns.”

However, there was a general refutation of this proverb by the young women, and sense in their belief that the past is not in the present, neither the future. For example:

No, it is wrong, people in the past should had understood that men are equal with women.”

“For me, this proverb is discouraging as I believe girls are also capable of every job and they can do any profession.”

“This proverb should be burned because it only supports inequality which might lead to underdevelopment and depression to women and girls.”

“It is not true: as in past time, people used to underestimate women capacity but today things change, boys and girls are equal.”

In Nepal, from our cycling activities to finding safe spaces for conversation, one of the proverbs put to the young women and discussed by them was: “Beta bhel loki lel, Beti bhel feki del” (Love your son, not daughter). Many of the young women knew of this proverb. They shared how they had observed this being played out in society, and they challenged this.  For example, one young woman said:

“This proverb is absolutely wrong. It is said that sons and daughters are God’s gift. But in behaviour people discriminate among son and daughter in our society. If we give continuation to these proverbs and mindset, I see our future is dark. If we change these proverbs it makes the country progress and our future bright.”

Some of the young women suggested that older generations of people were unable to  challenge this proverb, but the new generation would do.

“This is wrong. But the older generation they do not know about that. This will completely vanish in future because today’s kids are so intelligent.”

“I think it (the proverb) was false. But the older generation might not understand this because they did not have any education before and no exposure. The society was like that.”

“I think it will change in future because women are doing better.”

The cycling journeys taken by these young women to these safe spaces seemed to provide a collective sense of emancipation in their bonding, in their play, in their conversations. They have provided clear voice and opinion on how culturally embedded proverbs have been able to frame women in many cases lesser than men. However, these young powerful women have given clear voice and opinion for a change of view on this representation across their families and communities.


Gayle, B. M, .Cortez, D., & Preiss, R. W. (2013) “Safe Spaces, Difficult Dialogues, and Critical Thinking,” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Vol. 7: No. 2, Article 5. Available at:

Harvey, L., Cooke, P., & Bishop Simeon Trust South Africa (2021) Reimagining voice for transrational peace education through participatory arts with South African youth. Journal of Peace Education, 18 (1). pp. 1-26. ISSN 1740-0201

Re-spinning cultural art forms: reflections from the Culture as Change webinar

Dr Sarah Huxley

Central to the Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) research project, is the exploration of how cultural art forms can catalyse, re-frame and generate alternative ways of knowing (Leavy, 2015). The project requires participants and co-creators of the research (from many different vantage points), to continually consider where and how local knowledge production is positioned. Integral to this positioning are the cultural art forms themselves, such as Deuda, an improvisatory call and response performance, from far western Nepal, or the theatrical productions of Kyrgyz fables by students from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. Such art forms facilitate an exploratory and dialogic engagement with past traditions, narratives of history, and future hopes and desires. These often include the viewer/listener as much as the performers themselves (Gadamer, 2004).

Audiences become performers and performers can become audiences: through a fluid, more than verbal, dialogic living, and experiential art form. The art forms in MAPs projects consider both hyper localised contexts, but also often national heritage/histories. Social norms and narratives can be unpicked and re-spun with individuals from different backgrounds across societies, whether this is inter-generationally, or between genders, or socio-economic backgrounds. Specifically, also with ‘decision makers’ and those who have some power/influence in formalising social change practices/structures (identified within local and national contexts). Cultural art forms (such as song, dance, theatre, artefacts) therefore provide a conduit to bring diverse individuals together, and then re-cast the seemingly familiar/static social narrative into something else, more than, and of the very place and time the dialogic cultural art forms arises in. The German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) described this well, when he stated “I live my life in widening circles/ that reach out across the world. / I may not complete this last one/ but I give myself to it” (1997: x). MAP is very much an alive ripple of networks, ideas, art forms, all in movement with each other.

The webinar we held on June 15 on Culture as Change explored many of these ideas and more. What became apparent was the opportunities afforded by using local art forms, already part of cultural psyches and embodied narratives on identity, present ways to tackle challenging/difficult issues. This was articulated in the video shown on Deuda, where improvisational call and response chanting often focuses on using satire/jest to unpick social power imbalances within family, community, and society. The art form provides an invitation to engage with surprise, wit, and humour – perhaps all mechanisms not only for creating dialogue on sometimes challenging topics, but also to facilitate a change in the art form itself. This is certainly true of the One Girl One Drum project, opening up spaces for girls to drum in Rwanda, which previously was a male dominated cultural form. You can get a sense from the video below, of how the girls are adding and re-energising the art form, bringing their interpretation and perspectives, in dialogue with parents, local officials, NGOs and artists.

Whilst researching and exploring cultural art forms can present physical, intellectual, and embodied spaces for inclusion, we are also aware that they can re-produce exclusionary practices. But the point today, spoken by our Principal Investigator for One Drum one Girl, Kiki, during the webinar is that “the drumming means more than speech”.

If you watched or participated in the webinar, please add your reflections in the comments section below.

Watch the webinar recording here:

Watch the video clips from each of the three projects:


Gadamer, H. G. (2004). Truth and method. London: Continuum.

Leavy, P. (2015). Method meets art: Arts-based research practice (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.

Rilke, R.M. (1997) Book of Hours: Love Poems to God. Translated by Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy. Riverhead books. First published April 1, 1905.

Facing Heaven – Dēudā Folklore, Art & Peace in Nepal

Inception Fieldtrip May 2023

Dr ST Dancey

(With contributions & Translation from Dila Dat Pant)


Funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) via a Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) commissioned project began this April, exploring the role of Nepalese Dēudā culture on local conflict issues, peace building and policies for sustainable peace in society. Dr Simon Dancey of the University for the Creative Arts is the projects Principal Investigator alongside Co-Investigators Nar Bahadur Saud and Dila Dat Pant.

Dēudā or Dēudā Khel is a Nepali genre of song and dance, performed in the Sudurpashchim and Karnali provinces of Nepal, as well as in the Kumaon Division of Uttarakhand state of India. It is performed at various festivals, such as Gaura. The dance is performed by singing Dēudā songs in a circulus by holding each-other’s hands. It is considered as part of the cultural heritage of Karnali Province. The project has a number of specific objectives:

  • To explore the ways in which Dēudā culture can be used to promote local peace building in a dialogue between young people, educator and policymaker.
  • To assess limitations between local practices and peacebuilding approaches by using arts-based approaches to promote the wellbeing of young people, particularly those from remote and marginalized groups.
  • To investigate alternative communication structures and approaches to inform local, national, and international approaches to peacebuilding.

Dr Simon Dancey undertook an inception research visit to Nepal for the setup of the yearlong project this April. The next step of the project will gather primary data vis semi-structured interviews from social actors in Nepal, exploring the research objectives. This research project is an important effort to preserve and understand the Dēudā culture in Nepal, which is an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage. The collaboration between UCA and MAP, along with the support of local co-investigators and the government, demonstrates the importance of international cooperation in understanding intangible cultural heritage.


Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia and is bordered by China and India, with a population of 29M. It is in the Himalayas and contains eight of the world’s ten highest peaks, including Everest. The Nepalese Civil War was a protracted armed conflict that took place in the former Kingdom of Nepal from 1996 to 2006. It saw countrywide fighting between the Nepalese royal government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), with the latter making significant use of guerrilla warfare. The government system is now a federal parliamentary republic; the chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister.

Day 1- 3 Kathmandu

A snap of the Kathmandu Symposium on Deuda. On the left of mine are former Deputy Prime Minister Bhim Rawal and a sitting MP Dayal Bahadur Shahi (Dila Datt Pan)

Flying into Kathmandu, I was both excited and nervous about the upcoming research project. I had travelled extensively in the region (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka etc.) but never to Nepal. Friends had waxed lyrical, misty eyed about both its beaty and dangerous terrain. The trip would involve quite a lot of travel inside Nepal and up into the mountainous region in the West. A lovely welcome awaited me at the airport, led by my local Co-I Dila, who I later was to learn had organised a superlative inception programme.

Kathmandu was warm and dusty, and we kicked off the following day with national-level consultation program called Discourse on Dēudā Folklore.

The program brought together artists, scholars, practitioners, and media professionals to explore the topic of discussion, and two academic papers were presented to open avenues for further discussion (see appendix for details).

The passion of the participants was palpable, and speakers regularly broke out into song. It was an honour to be present and hopefully facilitate giving a wider voice and exposure to this area of Nepalese culture. The areas discussed ranged from historical context of the folklore to sociological investigations, semiotics and government policy. As the long meeting progressed, several themes emerged on song content and form. These included:


Dēudā is common folklore for all, irrespective of gender, despite existing gender imbalances. For example, women were traditionally sent to Menstrual sheds that are demolished but female segregation still happens. However, in, women in Dēudā play strong empowered role in challenging gender stereotypes and patriarchal power. This was demonstrated in song responses berating ‘lazy, drunk men’. A growth in Aids and HIV outbreaks in the Western region has also been linked to migrant Nepali male works visiting India and returning with infections and this theme also making its way into songs.


The very different local socio-cultural imaginary of the Western region versus hegemonic dominant national socio-cultural imaginary and the marginalisation of Western cultural forms


Dēudā songs are rich enough in reflecting the annals of a long history. The following piece speaks of how the conflict between the then powerful regime of Sinja State and Khar state took to a fierce battle and how the Sinja squad was fated to suffer destruction:

Tallo bato talchhedoko, majh bato Humliko/
Taulakhar ladain bhaigo, nash padyo Jumliko//

(The lower path is of Talchhedo whereas the middle path of Humli/
A fierce battle took place in Taulakher and Jumli fighters suffered a huge loss//)

Another stone inscription dating back to 1461 BS (900 years ago) offers a deuda song in it (Padam p Kalauni):

Chhakalyaka Bali Raja, sanjhaka Shahi bhaya/
Sinjako Shreepech boki, Chhinasim ai gaya//

(King Bali came in the morn, whereas the Shahi’s arrived in the eve/
Fetching along the Crown of Sinja state, they came to Chhinasim//)


A critique of both local and national politicians on their failure to deliver of corruption or cronyism. Some folksongs reflect of how the rulers used to exploit the public:

Birkulya Paltan Ayo, Manobhari Rakha/
Bhari boknya Gaulya ho, Palo Suni Rakha//

(The Birkulya batallion has arrived, spare potful of foodgrains for them/
O! the fellow village porters, take into account your turn to serve them//)

Love & Sex.

One of the most dominant themes across folklore ranging from young lovers to couples bringing shame on their village for inappropriate behaviour. Example below:

Boy: Tero Poi Naintaal baijhau, pardeshai marijhau/
Tera Poiko lagnya maya, maitira sarijau. //

(I wish your husband goes to Nainital(india) for work and he dies over there/
And your love to him thereafter gets transferred to me//)

Girl: Ichala ko dabya ghans, budhi gai charali/
Mera Poile ke birayo, teri Joi marali//

(The grass on the upper slope would be grazed by an old cow/
I wonder what wrong my husband has caused to you and curse you that your wife dies instead//)


The structure of the song has strong link to movement and rhythm of the dance. Many songs are long lived in the societies, and they speak of the fatalism, pain, helplessness, social structures, love and so on.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Bhim Rawal started with a few such classic songs:

Rajpur hai Jangipur, Kanya hai Kachali/
Kya chadhi gulabi ranga, kya maya basali//

(The first segment of journey is from Rajpur to Jangipur and the next from Kanya to Kachali/
You are blushed in rosy cheeks; I wonder if you get in love with me//)

Kasaiki Basmati Dhan, Kasaiki Kode Nai/
Kasaiki sunko har, kasaiki pote nai//

(Some feed in the Baasmati rice while others do not even have millet to eat/
some are so privileged to own the chains of gold while others do not even own the normal bead//)

It is also a tradition that such template-based songs are adapted to local circumstances also e.g., looking for work and consequence thereof.

Ka falu dukhako bhari khutta tutan lagya/
Pradeshi karam mero sath chhutan lagya//

(Where do I put my burdens on, my legs are nearly collapsing/
Fated to be a migrant worker abroad, I am to lose all my companions//)

Dēudā was felt to catch the context of changing society and was part of all festivals except death festival. My thanks for translation of songs and added comments and interpretation on this section from Dila Datt Pant.

Day 4- 5 – Achham & Seti

The following day we took an internal flight to Dhangadi, and home state of Dila. We were travelling with team member Govinda, whose mountain village we would be visiting, a ten-hour drive from Dhangadi airport. The flight allowed a view of the Himalayas, and the panorama was sublime, for a moment it felt like being close to the face of God and Facing Heaven. Back to earth in Dhangadi the temperature was decidedly hotter hovering around 30°C. An encounter with a bevy of Tharu indigenous women, dressed in their traditional attires, at the airport was a solace to forget the heat. With Dila’s support, I took chance to capture a moment with them.

Tharu Indigenous women, encountered in Dhangadhi Airport (Dila Datt Pant)

We climbed into our waiting 4×4 and began the long, winding journey into the mountains with a camera person and local woman journalist.

As I’d been warned, the roads were narrow, serpentine and regularly revealing sheer drops tumbling down into verdant valleys very, very far below. Small shrines and flowers bedecked areas where travellers had not been so lucky and plunged to certain death. My colleagues seemed bemused at my perma-stressed face and white-knuckle gripping of the door handle, untroubled by what I thought was imminent death.

As Conrad showed us all, it’s often the journey that reveals the most, not just the destination. The mountains culture offered some startling juxtapositions, with an increasing arable farming presence, balanced with almost universal mobile phone use.

We stopped at small roadside building for food, the staple of dhal, rice, saag and roti tasting delicious in the mountain air.

We stopped next at a breath-taking mountain Hindu shrine, the view stretching down into the Seti River valley and terraced areas of golden wheat everywhere. Mostly though, there were no men to be seen in the field, the women scything, collecting and husking the wheat. The men we learnt later talking to local women were mostly playing cards and drinking.

Wheat field on the bank of Seti River in Doti

Wheat gathering near Seti River

We eventually began our descent and arrived at Achham, our place for the night, as darkness fell, the sky obsidian, flecked by stars and house lights so high it was impossible to tell which was which.

The next day began with a climb back into the mountains, heading for Govinda’s village. This time it was just single dirt track, dried mud and rock. I tried not to look down. Hours later we reached a dead end and clambered along a small pathway into the village. The welcome I was not expecting and took my breath away. The entire village, bedecked in traditional costumes turned out to welcome us. Flower wreaths speeches and welcome food took up the next few hours. It was very humbling and the people so warm and welcoming.

We them moved to the nearby festival area, one of the very few substantive flat open areas that was growing wheat. The rest of the afternoon was simply breath-taking, my expectations of meeting a few performers were entirely wrong. Dila and Govinda had surprised me with a full scale live Dēudā competition with many other queued up cultural performances that were constituents of Deuda culture. This rural municipality named Mellekh, where the show was held, welcomed over 1,500 participants from surrounding villages and the local government had supported the coordination of the visit. Incredible. The performance was beautiful and complex, giving life to the symposium discussions back in Kathmandu. Musicians, dancers and call and response from the circles of performers, in varying local dress was incredible and illuminating. We had manged a few semi-informal interviews exploring themes and structures, but I was mostly awarded the role of guest of honour, giving speeches and handing out prizes.

Putala Dance: a constituent dance of Deuda folklore performed a school premises in Mellekh.

Hori: a folk dance which is performed in the similar movement of Deuda.

It was an exceptional day that ended with being pulled into a Dēudā circle to dance and laugh in the 39°C late afternoon sun and dust, perched on top of a mountain in distant Nepal.

Day 6 – 7 – Dhangadi

It had taken most of the previous day to drive back to Dhangadi. The trip to Achham already feeling dreamlike. Dhangadi itself was part of the plains and it felt strange to be ‘down’. The day began with a beautiful visit to Dila’s family home and family, surrounded by banana plantations and the border with India within a stone’s throw. I was honoured at the warm hospitality and very enthused to meet his father at 96 so passionately sharing some Deuda songs for us.

The afternoon was spent meeting local politicians to discuss the project and finance and TV and radio interviews, talking through what we’d been doing and what our next steps would be.

Giving Interview at Dinesh FM in Dhangadhi (Dila Datt Pan)

Day 8 – Kathmandu & London

The final day in Kathmandu involved squeezing in some last-minute sight-seeing and a last-minute wrap up meeting with Dila and Govinda and a lovely gift mug. Pashupatinath Temple was stunning and watching the cremations taking place outside on the tributary of the Ganges left me moved, orange robbed figures wreathed in smoke. It struck me that it’s much better to have death visible like this, than our Western approach of compartmentalising it.

Perhaps, the following excerpt from my friend Dila’s poem best suited to narrate the scene on the Aaryaghat; the bank of Bagmati river in Pashupati.

A poem by Dila, who is a co-researcher of my team

And that, alongside many other thoughts and inspirations accompanied on my flight back to London. I’d learnt so much already and couldn’t wait to continue the research and I was already planning my return to the incredible Nepal, that I now realize the Lonely Planet had not simply ranked Nepal as trekker’s paradise!

For further details regarding the project, please refer to the Twitter account of UCAR Office at

Dr Simon Dancy (PI –  & Nar Bdr. Saud (Co- I – can be contacted for additional information.

All Pictures copywrite ST Dancey 2023 unless otherwise credited

Building our project team as an International Steering Group: Picturing the past, present, and future in the imaginations, dreams and journeys taken by young women in Nepal and Rwanda

MARLON LEE MONCRIEFFE, Principal Investigator, UK.

NUB RAJ BHANDARI, Co-Investigator, Nepal.

CHASTE UWIHOEYE, Co-Investigator, Rwanda.


Our MAP team first started working together in Nepal through the 2018-19 Changing The Story funded project “Examining Interpretations of Civil National Values made by Young People in Post-Conflict Settings (Kenya and Nepal)”. As well as this we have worked together on the Consolidation, learning and evaluation in Kenya and Rwanda: A critical review of Changing the Story projects in Eastern Africa (Decolonising Curriculum Knowledge). The successes of these projects has enabled a bonding in our understanding and learning from each other about the international professional and social contexts from which we derive and valuable contributions that we each bring to the project as a whole. This article provides an overview of the developments in progress of our project team, which has transformed into becoming an international steering group.

Building on Phase 1 MAP projects

Picturing the past, present, and future in the imaginations, dreams and journeys taken by young women in Nepal and Rwanda extends the MAP vision from the Phase 1 contexts of Nepal and Rwanda. Both have sought to provide training for youth, educators, and cultural artists; to support the design and delivery of Participatory Arts as a part of the national curriculum. Our project seeks to build upon existing work in Nepal and Rwanda with a particular focus on the use and application of Mithila Art and Imigogo Art. Our aim is to show how these art methods can be applied as intergenerational dialogic tools of communication for informing social and educational policies in Nepal and Rwanda, and in challenging gender discrimination across both societies more widely. Of all the MAP medium grants projects, our project is unique through the cross-cultural exploration between two countries, providing comparative research findings. We are using and applying the same theoretical framework  across the two projects.

Project overviews and meetings

Our project strategy was completed in January 2023. This was shared at our first meeting as a team on February 1st 2023. In essence, the project strategy is a working document that provides milestones, to measure progress, and includes the overview of fieldwork strategies and logistics for each country. The project overview is a working document that is continuously updated during the processes of our agenda led meetings. All fortnightly meetings prior to the fieldwork in May and June occur online. However, a valuable face-to-face meeting with the P-I and Rwanda Co-I happened in Rwanda in February 2023, with the Nepal team brought online. This meeting included our introduction to the valuable Steering Group members. Also joining us was a partner the Rwandan Cycling Federation (FERWACY) who will support cycling journeys for women during our planned Rwanda fieldwork in May 2023.

From R to L: Emmanuel Kigundu, Dr Marlon Moncrieffe, Dr Chase Uwihoreye, and Mrs Liliane Kayirebwa (FERWACY). Rwanda, February 2023.

International Steering Group

The establishment of our International Steering Group has given young people from Nepal and Rwanda the opportunity to engage in cross-cultural dialogue. This has included in shaping the design of the project overview and in knowledge transfer of cultural proverbs from each national context, allowing for all to see the synergies of intergenerational experiences across both contexts. Our first meeting took place on 29th March 2023. 

The recruitment of Nepalese members to our Steering Group was completed in March 2023. A 23 year old, third year student studying a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) at Tribhuvan University, having a deep love with Mithila art and culture and interests in researching on the beauty and richness of Mithila art, Ms. Liza Kumari Jha was recruited as a young researcher. Similarly, Prity Karna learnt to paint Mithila art at a very young age and has a dream to be a renowned Mithila artist. Prity is confident to bring contemporary perspectives in Mithila Arts with an ambition to challenge the prevailing norms against women and girls through arts.

Project developments in Nepal

In the last week of April 2023, a steering group member and young Mithila artist, Ms. Prity Karna, and Nub Raj Bhandari (Co I – Nepal) participated in an interactive orientation event with young women. It was an informal meeting with the young women (who will later participate in the fieldwork) and our project’s Mithila artist lead in creating a synergy; contributing to the intergenerational aspects of the project between, youth researchers, and Mithila artists and researchers.

Project developments in Rwanda

Two Youth Action Board members and six teachers attended informal workshops testing approaches with arts methods tools for the baseline assessment and monitoring of the project. The activities included working together using a variety of ‘Tracking Tools’. For example the creation of ‘Vision Murals’. This is used by the participants to think on the vision  they wish to achieve in relation to an issue they want to address. The problems in the community as “the change they want to see”. Next, the participants were gathered in a circle of connected flipcharts and encouraged via engagement tasks to draw the change they envisaged through their choice of artistic approaches.

They participated in sharing their drawings, collages, and different murals towards the change they want to see in their communities. Some of the drawings included trees to represent family reunion. Whilst other drawings included arms that represent peace, unity and prosperity, and stars that represent the light of life. Poems were also written to represent the voice of the voiceless and isolated younger people in the community.


Picturing the past, present, and future in the imaginations, dreams and journeys taken by young women in Nepal and Rwanda: An introduction

MARLON LEE MONCRIEFFE, Principal Investigator.


There is a synergy in the mission of both Janaki Women Awareness Society (Nepal) and Uyisenga Ni Imanzi (Rwanda) in that they exist as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for empowering the health, wellbeing and lives of women. Both organisations will work together on a unique international project that will apply the MAP philosophy of arts-based communication structures facilitated between young people and policy makers, with a view to contributing to social, citizenship and education policy discourses.

Theoretical Framework

The intellectual foundation that gives the theoretical framework to our study is exploring, examining, discussing and reflecting on how gender based cultural proverbs have been passed across from generation to generation in both countries, and generally in their articulating a negative portrayal of women’s representation in society at all stages of their lives (Bishwakarma, 2020; Niyonshima, 2020). For example, in examination of Rwanda, Niyonshima (2020, p.12) provides lists of proverbs where women are considered as inferior, worthless and weak people in society:

  • Ntaa nkokôkazi ibîka isaâke ihâri. (A hen cannot cluck when a cock is around)
  • Uruvûze umugorê ruvuga umuhoro. (A word of a woman is followed by a machete)
  • Umukoôbwa w’îgicûucu yiirahiira imfîizi ya sê. (A foolish girl compares herself to her father)
  • Umugorê w’înkoramwuuga, abishiima yîikoze muu nda. (A professional witch ends up in killing her own children)
  • In examination of Nepal, Bishwakarma (2020) produced a survey that established a clear and substantial gap between women and humans in that society that have perpetuated the culturally accepted norm of discrimination against women. For example:
  • Chhorapaye khasi, Chhoripaye farsi (A party of mutton goes on a sons’ birth, but a pumpkin on that of daughters)
  • “Chhorapaye sansar ujayalo, Chhoribhaye bhanchha Ujyalo (Son brightens the entire world, while a daughter can only brighten the kitchen)
  • “Swasnimanchheko buddi pachhadi hunchha” (Women are always short-sighted).
  • Similarly, Jha (2008) has brought some Maithili proverbs that present women and girls/daughter negatively. For example:
  • “Beta bhel loki lel, Beti bhel feki del” (Love your son, not daughter)
  • “Ek beti mithai, dosar beti lai, tisar bhel tan tinu balaya” (Birth of a first daughter is good, second daughter does not bring happiness, third daughter is like poison)
  • “Jehane maugi aap chhinariya, tehane lagaabaya kul bebahariya” (Innovative activities of women are always criticized)

The presentation of these proverbs from Nepal and Rwanda should not be generalised to the life experiences of all women of Nepal and Rwanda over the ages. Indeed, the resilience, self-empowerment and rise of Rwandan women to positions of power in society is documented by Hunt (2017) particularly after the genocide of 1994. Whilst for Nepal, an example of women becoming leaders in society breaking from social constraints to their gender is documented by Adhikari (2023). What this project seeks to consider and develop learning from are the more relative intergenerational experiences of women whose lives may have been framed for living according to gender discriminatory cultural proverbs.  What is clear is that cultural proverbs of both societies articulate that girls/women do not matter a lot in comparison to boys/men. An internalization of this can lead to the playing out of stereotypes that can impede emancipation. Girls and Women in Nepal and Rwanda may not partake in a journey to development with those discrepancies.

Reflection and Reconceptualization

Picturing the past, present, and future in the imaginations, dreams and journeys taken by young women in Nepal and Rwanda seeks to disrupt the power of culturally embedded proverbs which perpetuate gender inequality. The purpose of our project seeks to actualise and exemplify women related to each other and of different generations. Firtsly, by their coming together and partaking in walking and bicycle journeys for finding safe spaces. In these, they can share with each other their experiences and reflections in affirming conceptualisations of their future narratives. The key objective of our project is: To support women in communicating the social challenges they have faced and their aspirations for the future.

Arts Based Methods

Further emancipation by the translation of the narratives given through women’s imaginations and aspirations will come through Imigogo (framed) art and photography (Rwanda) and Mithila art (Nepal).

Mithila art is a cultural form of art which depicts the ancient culture of Mithila kingdom (Central Southern region of Nepal and parts of India). This is an art form unique to women in their communication generation after generation.

Source ‘Smart History’: Young women cycling

There is a legend that Imigogo was invented as an interior decoration by Prince Kakira of Gisaka Kingdom in Nyarubuye in the 1800s. However, Imigogo art, is a traditionally female art form used by women in Rwanda.


Source ‘My Africals’

Figure 1 (below) provides a model of the thought processes given to our project and the stages of development from theoretical foundations to journeys for reflections, to translations of imaginations through arts-based methods, and to public and community engagement with the project’s outcomes.

Public and Community Engagement

Our project will deliver public and community engagement events in Kigali, Rwanda and in Janakpur, Nepal. These events will be pre and post fieldwork discussions (seminar and exhibitions) which will enable the sharing of our objectives and our outcomes. Local, regional and national policymakers we be invited to these events for sharing their contributions to the discussion of gender inequality in society, and in collaborating for impact on the reconceptualization of current and future social and educational policies.


  • Adhikari, A. (2023). Substantive Representation of Women Parliamentarians and Gender Equality in Nepal. In Substantive Representation of Women in Asian Parliaments (pp. 206-225). Routledge.
  • Bishwakarma, G. (2020). The Role of Nepalese Proverbs in Perpetuating Gendered Cultural Values. Advances in Applied Sociology, 10, 103-114.
  • Hunt. S. (2017) Rwandan Women Rising. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Jha, K. (2008). Maithili lokokti sanchay (Maithili proverbs- a collection). Sahitya Akeademi New Delhi
  • Niyonshima, P. (2020). A Sociolinguistic Study of Women Representation in Rwandan Proverbs. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 10, 24.

Allow me to return home: get more love, care, and support when I’m bleeding

Juhi Adhikari

Youth Advisory Board member, Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) Participatory arts-based international research project in the UK, Rwanda, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, and Nepal.

Credit: Problem Image, Shony Bhatta (anonymised), 14-year-old, Female, Nepal

“Please allow me to return home; I’m scared to go to sleep with the cattle nearby. It’s just that I’m going through a normal procedure called menstruation, said 14-year-old Shony Bhatta to her father. “Don’t treat me as unclean, I don’t deserve this.”

In Nepal, the menstruation taboo is a social stigma that considers women and girls unclean or impure during their periods. This is especially true in the far-western and Himalayan regions, and this taboo is called Chhaupadi. Chhaupadi means that women and girls must sleep in isolated huts or sheds outside their homes during menstruation. They are also forbidden from touching other people, animals, plants, water sources, or religious icons. This practice exposes them to health and safety risks, such as infections, snake bites, cold weather, sexual assault, or even death. There are many efforts to end Chhaupadi and promote menstrual health and hygiene in Nepal. The government banned Chhaupadi in 2005 and made it a criminal offense in 2017. Many NGOs and activists are also working to raise awareness, educate communities, distribute sanitary pads, and challenge cultural norms. However, there are still many challenges and barriers to overcome this deeply rooted tradition.

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) is a participatory arts-based research project which facilitates young people in Nepal, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, and Rwanda to explore the social issues that they believe create localized conflict in their communities and advocate for policy changes to solve the problems. In Nepal, as part of our research project, a group of teenage girls went to several schools and facilitated sessions with other teenage girls to share their perspectives and understand the social issues they are facing in a welcoming space. Many teenage girls raised the issue of ‘untouchability’ as a big concern, and stress for them, and they want to solve this social problem.

In the first drawing, I, Juhi Adhikari, a member of the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) from Nepal, show a reflection from one of the youth discussion sessions on how menstruation is still stigmatized in the Western region of the country. Some people in this region are seen to be very strict regarding their culture of “Chaupadi”. Due to the cultural stigma attached to being “impure” during menstruation and soon after childbirth, females are required to live away from home in a cramped, dangerous shed. As a young child who doesn’t even know how to take care of her personal hygiene and has blood stains all over her skirt and rashes over her thighs, Shony Bhatta is seen in this photo sobbing and pleading with her father to let her return home.

She considers it unreasonable that she had to stay out of school during menstruation, sleeps in a shed, and suffer a lot, simply because she was a girl and bleeding. Her mother, Sharmila Bhatta also feels helpless as she recalls how challenging it was for her to conceive Shony in a cowshed, and how she was forced to stay there with her newborn child for 11 days. She recalls the misery of being deprived of nourishing food and warm clothing to cover her daughter. She feels that Shony had no option but to submit as she looks at her daughter with a broken heart.

Her father, Dholu Bhatta, holds the belief that a girl or woman’s body is possessed by an evil spirit during menstruation and that this is why they should be kept away from the house and shouldn’t be fed nutritious food: doing so, according to their society, would strengthen the evil within them. The crops Shony touches would all die if she were allowed to walk around at this time, and she would poison every man she came into contact with. Even though he knows in his heart that this is wrong, he can’t go against the long-standing custom and asks his daughter to follow it instead. Shony is now forced to live alone.

She is now kept in isolation and is deprived of good quality food, sanitary conditions, independence, humanity, and dignity. While every female bleeds during her period, it is hardly ever positively recognized in the far western part of Nepal, despite being a natural process.

Credit: Solution Image, Shony Bhatta (anonymised), 14-year-old female, Nepal

“I used to assume that Chaupadi was an obligation, but after the awareness education campaign addressing menstruation, bodily autonomy, sex education, cleanliness, and sanitation in the programs and awareness campaign in the village for the youths, I learned that it wasn’t” stated Shony Bhatta.

As part of the discussion, we did not only talk about the social problems, we also explored the possible solutions from the teenage girl’s perspective. This second picture depicts the female voice and how they visualize solutions to make the world a better place to live for girls.

While a woman is menstruating, she may still live happily with her family in their home, as shown by the dark red blood drop in the background and the house inside it. This demonstrates that girls may live at home, receive extra care from their families, and consume nutritious food. The fact that the father and mother are wearing the same shade of clothing highlights their solidarity in supporting their daughter even while she is menstruating, and the shift in social attitudes that are taking place.

Dholu Bhatta moves forward while holding hands with his wife and his daughter. This illustrates how men and women may work together to transform society in ways that are advantageous to both genders. Shony and every other girl/woman like her in their society experienced embarrassment whilst menstruating and previously believed they’ll be treated cruelly and sent to a cowshed both during and after childbirth, while they were both experiencing these natural bodily processes.

Thus, it is very important to leave no one behind and ensure girls also have opportunities for thriving in their careers without any hindrances. The untouchability practice during the menstruation cycle is not only discriminatory but also a very stressful and mentally disturbing phase for many girls in Nepal. Without embracing natural bodily processes gracefully, our girls will not have a better place to live.




Adapting the Methods of the ‘Mobile Arts for Peace’ Project for the Psychosocial Assistance of Children and Youth in Ukraine

By Olga Ovcharuk 

Professor of the Department of Cultural Studies and Intercultural Communications

National Academy of Managerial Staff of Culture and Arts (Ukraine, Kyiv)

Photo Credit: Tina Hartung, Unsplash

Russia’s full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine, began on February 24 2022, marked the beginning of the largest humanitarian catastrophe in Europe since the Second World War. Thousands of innocent people have been killed, huge civilian casualties, millions of refugees, and large-scale destruction of the country’s infrastructure: including schools, universities, museums, libraries, and cultural heritage sites destroyed. This is resulting in the deep psychological trauma for the entire Ukrainian society, especially for its most vulnerable, namely youth and children. That is why the search for opportunities to provide them with psychological support, overcome psychological trauma and stress are extremely important tasks facing Ukraine’s state institutions, non-governmental organisations, educational and scientific institutions, across Ukrainian society today.

In this regard, the National Program of ‘Mental Health and Psychosocial Support’ is of great importance. This program was initiated in 2022 by the Office of the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, and supported by government agencies – the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, and the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine. Equally important for Ukrainian society is the international experience gained in cooperation with educational institutions, civil society representatives, artists, and cultural figures. The «Mobile Arts for Peace» art project attracts attention perhaps most of all as a source of relevant international experience that demonstrates the possibilities of using art to address pressing humanitarian, social, and ethnic problems, including the use of art to provide psychosocial support to children and youth.

Despite the fact that the problems of human psychological health are actively attracting attention and being discussed in many areas of life today, the use of art to address them has not received sufficient coverage. However, art itself is a powerful force capable of transforming a person, his or her worldview, inner world, and causes spiritual transformations of both individuals and the entire community. The influence of art today makes it possible to solve many social problems. This understanding of art is key to the ‘Mobile Arts for Peace’ art project and opens up opportunities to use its ideas to overcome various types of conflicts and provide psychosocial support to children and youth in many modern societies. These ideas are extremely relevant for modern Ukrainian society.

Involvement in the atmosphere of artistic creativity is an effective way to establish interaction, cooperation, and partnerships between all participants in creative communication. The synthesis of the arts – music, dance, drama as a key method of the ‘Mobile Arts for Peace’ project allows us to use the potential of each art to overcome psychological trauma, stress, nervous tension, etc. Involving children in working with shape, color, space, movement, and sound opens up wide opportunities for their creative expression and creates a wide scope for self-realization. In addition, the combination of different types of art is the basis for using the achievements of other scientific fields and creative practices. Thus, in the context of an interdisciplinary approach, it is especially important to turn to art therapy. Its achievements have recently been actively used to restore psychological health, to develop a healthy worldview and lifestyle.

The synthesis of the arts – music, dance, drama combined with an interdisciplinary approach can become a conceptual basis for the development of effective cultural and artistic practices as a way of psychological support for children and youth in Ukraine.

In this context, one of the key methods of the ‘Mobile Arts for Peace’ project is noteworthy. Its essence lies in the combination of different types of art and national cultural traditions of the countries where the project is being implemented. This ensures its success in achieving its goal of building peace and establishing dialogue. At the same time, the involvement of national traditions allows us to solve problems related to the psychological health of children and youth. National cultural traditions not only preserve and transmit from generation to generation the history, values, and worldview of the people, they are a source of formation of the national character and mental experience of the people.

It is important to note that in Ukraine, national cultural traditions are an important component of the national education of children and youth. That is why the national cultural space is the most natural environment for maintaining psychological health through various types of creative activity, such as folk choral singing, playing various folk instruments, folk dances, theater performances, etc.

An essential method of the ‘Mobile Arts for Peace’ project is to use art as a way of creative development of the individual based on his or her individual capabilities, abilities, and inclinations. It is in the atmosphere of artistic creativity that full-fledged conditions are created for the comprehensive self-expression of each person, the disclosure of their creative potential, and the manifestation of creative activity. However, only through an individual approach, the search for the most appropriate type of artistic activity that meets the intellectual, physical, and emotional needs of each person, can a way be found to overcome the consequences of psychological trauma, get rid of negative emotional experience and stress. Involvement of the non-verbal language of art allows to reveal the deep aspects of each person’s spiritual experiences and, at the same time, to find the most effective mechanism of psychological assistance in accordance with individual needs.

It should be noted that many practical steps have already been taken in Ukraine today to provide psychological assistance to children, youth, veterans of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and society as a whole, but it is children and youth who, as an important human capital, need to co-develop the latest humanitarian strategies to overcome the negative psychological experience of war. With this in mind, the valuable practical experience and relevant artistic methods of the ‘Mobile Arts for Peace’ project can be used in contemporary cultural and artistic practices to provide psychological support to Ukrainian children and youth.


MAP Indonesia: Informing Youth Policy through Arts Based Methods

By Harla Octarra from Atma Jaya, Indonesia

This short video shows the journey of how MAP young researchers collaborated with various stakeholders to gradually inform youth policy through research, creating art-forms and an audience with local government. Told from the perspectives of Ibnu, Indri, Haikel, and presented by Harla (as MAP Co-Investigator in Indonesia), the video opens with Harla giving a short introduction to key MAP activities in 2020 and 2021. The opening emphasises how MAP created a space for dialogue and collaboration between young people and cultural artists, which continued to create spaces for dialogue with the community and local government.

The three young people take turns to explain their research process. Engagement between the young people, cultural artists, youth facilitators and the local leader took place during the research processes sheds light on how participatory art-based research can be done. Two-types of briefs, namely policy papers and behind-the-scenes video, are briefly explained as effective mediums in capturing how film and comic books brought readers and viewers closer to the issues. Pointing to the fact that after reading the comic book and seeing the film they felt they could then deeply dialogue about the issues of brawls and sexual violence that the two art-forms raised.

The next steps for informing policy started with an audience with local government and the Art Council who hoped for possible artistic collaborations in the future. The video closes with Harla’s remarks on the potential activities and engagement in 2023 and 2024, which MAP young researchers have and will take part in. These include participation in government-led discussions on child participation policy, becoming facilitators of the National Children’s Consultation Forum, and using arts-based approaches in future research and advocacy.

The full video can be accessed here:


Reflections: Musical Dialogue during the International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE) conference 2022

By Juhi Adhikari (19) Undergraduate Student at Tribhuvan University & MAP Nepal Youth Researcher

Caption: MAP Nepal young researchers using participatory approaches (2022)

Last year I was selected to join the International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE 2022) in Mexico. I was the youngest participant among 50, all working on peace education, either as an educator or researcher/practitioner. I chose the theme “Girls expressing themselves through Musical Dialogue” from my experience with MAP Nepal research. In order to provide a secure space, especially for young girls who are unable to discuss their life experiences, I used the Musical Dialogue activity from the Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) Manual for my workshop at the International Institute of Peace Education (IIPE Mexico 2022). As a young woman researcher, I’ve always believed that most girls experience unforgettable life events at least once at a young age, which have an impact on us both physically and mentally. As a girl, we may have experienced harassment at least once anywhere: at home by family members, in a public vehicle, or even at school by our teachers. Women experience numerous family issues in addition to harassment, because they are often responsible for managing the household.

However, many girls are unable to convey inner feelings to anyone. It might be because of fear that we are constantly being assessed by society that we are unable to freely communicate what we have been through. There is a prevalent belief that even if you are harassed by men, it is your fault. This belief may stem from the type of clothing that you are wearing, but boys/men are never to blame. Always, it’s “you.”

As a result, I could see that the Musical Dialogue module from the MAP manual would be a tremendous benefit for me and others. That’s why I chose this activity to showcase with the IIPE 2022 participants how this one MAP methodology can provide safe space for dialogue amongst girls who have had bitter experiences. Undoubtedly this method aids in assisting the girls’ sentiments. Through this exercise, I have seen girls foster a sense of trust among their peers and freely share their experiences. Since verbal communication is not the only means by which we may share and convey our emotions. We can express empathy for others through nonverbal means such as art and dialogue. The ability to “walk in someone else’s shoes” fosters a much deeper emotional connection. Empathy is extremely powerful since it calls for a deeper understanding of the other person’s thoughts and feelings. I chose this module for my workshop in Mexico for that reason.

My workshop experience: How did I start?

I explained at the beginning of the workshop that the participants should imagine themselves as young ladies between the ages of 10 and 15 and convey their true feelings as they go along. After that, I turned on some upbeat music and gave participants cues to move around the space, such as “Move as fast as you can,” “Move as slow as you can,” “Move as far as you can,” “Go to your favorite corner of the room,” and “Move around the room, and notice the colors or shapes in the room.”

I then instructed them to link elbows with the person closest to them as soon as the music turned off. For a few rounds, I gave the participants a discussion question after the music stopped and they then formed pairs joined at the elbow. The pairs alternately gave their views on each question they were asked. Examples of those initial discussion questions were:

  • Describe yourself in one action or emotion?
  • Your preferred cuisine?
  • Something about you that I’m unaware of?
  • What did you do as soon as you woke up?
  • Have you got a dog?

These types of questions helped to forge bonds and with these kinds of opening conversations, the participants felt at ease and free.

After these simple questions were explored, I could see and feel that the atmosphere in the room had already changed: individuals had begun to trust their peers and calmly listen. As a result, I raised the bar and asked the following key questions about these activities:

  • Who or what inspires you, and why?
  • What aspects of your life do you feel grateful for, and why?
  • Why are you so satisfied with yourself?
  • What has been your most memorable and joyful experience?
  • What has been your life’s most tragic moment?
  • Your long-kept secret that you’ve been reluctant to share?

After the discussion ended, I could see that participants were hugging and crying as a result: delighted to share things that they would have never shared if the questions hadn’t been posed in this way. They were sobbing joyfully and had the impression that they were heard and understood.

I was quite thrilled and moved to witness how this straightforward activity led to the development of connection, respect, empathy, and trust among the participants. I then invited each participant to take a seat in a designated location before moving on to these reflection questions:

  • I asked them how they felt after participating in this activity.
  • What do they think about using this activity to have young girls talk about their problems?
  • What difficulties did they encounter during these activities?

I observed that revealing a secret in a safe space was both emotional and liberating. I could feel how happy they were. When we are unable to communicate, we can feel ourselves being confined within our bodies. I recall that I had this kind of harassment frequently as a teenager, and that I covered it up. I felt lonely, stressed, and incredibly anxious. However, whilst saying it the first time made me feel terrible and depressed. Thankfully, those emotions faded, and a much deeper satisfaction developed in their place.

A few participants even answered when I inquired about any changes that I could possibly make to the task by saying, “We never know how to answer that question.” It seemed to me that for our group it was a powerful experience, and as it was, perfect. In an ideal world, with more time, I guess it would be a good idea to go slowly from happiness to trauma and end up with something happy too.”

When asked for feedback and if getting along with others in groups was simple or difficult, a few participants added, “It was simple, but we must take into account that we already liked everyone who was in their group.”

Here is the poetic Facebook post from one of the participants, after he attended the workshop.

PLAYING OUT OF SILENCE (an abridged version)

By Carlos

Is this my body? I ask in silence.

I don’t always own your heartbeat.

They touch it, smile, turn it on and leave me.

Alone, on an island of numb fear.

Ideas that pop, you feel them gather…


Is this my body?

From your flesh, I hide in silence.

In the hidden confusion the rage

In the mist, I hide my desires.

Are these my wishes?


-Girl- I tell another girl a secret

My body… they touch, smile, turn on and leave me.

A tear streaming down her face, too…

We play five together, dance, look at each other.

And playin’ and dancin’ this body too mine.


Further links:

MAP Nepal

International Institute on Peace Education

Vice Chancellor Prof. Neal Juster delivers Welcome Speech at MAP ‘Gathering’ Conference

Vice Chancellor Prof. Neal Juster delivers Welcome Speech at MAP ‘Gathering’ Conference

Vice Chancellor Prof. Neal Juster. Credit: Jonathan Robinson

Welcome to this Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) reception. I would like to welcome you on behalf of the University of Lincoln. I know you have been here, in Lincoln, for most of the week and have been kept rather busy. But I also hope you have felt welcomed into a fabulous city, embraced by the University and been entertained well at some of the city’s establishments every evening.

It is good to see delegates from so many different countries, participants and project investigators. It has been good to see some of the work generated by colleagues from Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Indonesia and Nepal. I know the reception has colleagues from Higher Education Institutions, NGOs, UNESCO, research councils, and, most importantly, members of the MAP Youth Advisory Board together with colleagues from the University of Lincoln

Of course, today is a significant day in the UK, and much of Europe’s, calendar. Armistice day. The day that marked the end of the Great, or First World War. It is also a day, in the UK at least, when we remember those who have fallen in the many conflicts that have occurred since then.

The First World War was supposed to be the war that ended all wars – but of course, it wasn’t. Although today’s headlines are dominated by the conflict in Ukraine there are also conflicts in over 30 other countries primarily in the Middle East, North West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, in Britain, the media rarely report on these conflicts – I presume because they are seen as being too remote or not directly impacting British citizens.

I am therefore grateful that the MAP project exists because it reminds us that there are millions in the world either amid ongoing conflict or trying to find some reconciliation once the battles have ceased. Of course, the MAP project is not just working with survivors of conflict, but also of other traumatic events including, but not restricted to, drug abuse, sexual violence, child abuse, and absent parents.

By being part of the project, we here in Lincoln, currently many miles from conflict and many years from dealing with direct threats to our territory, can learn a lot. Much of this can and will be, applied to our day-to-day activities particularly around safeguarding and health and well-being.

This year we have published a new strategy, setting our direction. We have given it the title Transforming Lives and Communities.

We are a relatively new University. In the early 90s, the city and region were struggling economically as heavy industry waned. So local people stood up and took action, raising £30 million to create our first campus building in Lincoln. 25 years ago we started with a few hundred students, with no cash, and surrounded by brownfield land in a City that was struggling. But the people of Lincolnshire took the university to their hearts: it was theirs. They built it. And they kept it going.

With the help of partners in the region, we added new academic buildings, accommodation, a library, a theatre, a sports centre and last year a new medical school.

While the City and the University might be unrecognisable from how we looked 25 years ago when the late Queen Elizabeth II opened our first building just on the other side of the railway, the principles that determine how we grow have always been the same: responding to local needs and working hand-in-hand in genuine partnerships with employers and our communities to make big things happen.

We have been seen to make a real difference and are seen to have already transformed many lives and helped to improve communities. There is a strong and compelling story of where we have come from and what we have achieved.

We now have a strong and compelling story of where we are going. We will continue to focus on realizing our long-term ambition of being seen as a university that contributes through regional regeneration and international connectivity.

Our strategy is built upon 3 key themes: Collaborate, Challenge and Transform. The Mobile Arts for Peace project absolutely aligns with these 3 themes: strong collaboration, challenging what has gone before and transforming the future, particularly lives impacted by conflict.  I am grateful therefore to Professor Ananda Breed for taking the lead for us and to the other partners for their leadership and strong collaboration.

I look forward to seeing the project move into its next phase.

Once again welcome, I hope you enjoy the rest of the evening and safe travels to those who will be returning to their home counties over the next few days.

Capacity Building for Adults – Mariah Cannon

Capacity Building for Adults – Mariah Cannon

Author: Mariah Cannon – Institute of Development Studies

Edition: Camilo Soler Caicedo

Caption: Photo-collage workshop (An example of bottom-up engagement to inform adults) – 8th April 2021, Red Nose Foundation, Jakarta, Indonesia


While it was heartening and inspiring to listen to the major successes of the Mobile Arts for Peace projects in their initial stages, I was also delighted by the participants willingness to talk about their disappointments. In these spaces we often only hear of success as this is an essential aspect of justifying resources and securing future funding. However, an exclusive focus on success limits opportunities to learn and improve our work and recognise common challenges across projects and themes and subsequently come up with strategies to address them. In the Mobile Arts for Peace projects, a pattern of challenges was evident because of the openness of presenters. In the cases mentioned by MAP partners and dialogue attendees, these disappointments stemmed from similar lack of external support and buy-in from those they were targeting while the corresponding successes resulted from engaged and committed stakeholders. In this case, and in others, we see that for change to happen, there needs to be both bottom-up and top-down engagement.

Creating spaces for constructive dialogue between young people and decision-makers, particularly politicians and government officials presents a host of challenges. Often, projects focus on empowering and building capacity and skills of the young people with whom they are working. Young people are supported to identify issues that are important to them and to articulate them in formats which can be disseminated and shared with stakeholders and those with the power to bring about change. The adults supporting them introduce them to data collection methods, analysis techniques and facilitate events where young people can share their findings. The final step is where the biggest challenge remains. Young people are empowered and develop capacity to speak to those in power – but are those in power capable of listening and hearing?

While copious resources are put into developing the capacity of young people, rarely do projects elaborate or build opportunities for reversals – building the capacity of the powerful to listen to young people. And yet this is an essential component of change. Entrenched social norms around childhood and youth often mean that children are expected to listen. Yet, if other social norms – such as child marriage and gender discrimination are to be challenged – people, and especially adults – need shift their perceptions of what young people are capable of and the role they play in our societies.

Robert Chambers argues that power does not have to be a zero-sum exchange and that to give up power does not necessitate that someone else loses it, rather he contends that these exchanges can be win-win (2016). To advocate for win-win scenarios requires a shift from focusing only on bottom-up approaches. Instead, transforming power requires that top-down approaches take place alongside bottom-up approaches: ‘the importance of bottom-up power with and power within strategies, vital and often primary though they are, should not distract from the potentials of top-down transformations using power over in ways which are win-win, with gains for the powerful as well as for those who are empowered.’[1] There are spaces in development where this has started to take place – such as working with men on issues of gender inequity, see the work of Equimundo, and working with business owners on issues of working conditions in the CLARISSA programme.

As mentioned by the MAP Nepal team, there was greater success when government officials who were involved in the MAP dialogues recognised the value of youth finding and presenting the issues which were most relevant to their well being as it meant that government officials then knew where to focus their energy and resources. Yet, even when adults are supportive of youth activities, in adult and youth exchanges there is the danger that ‘adults talk too much’ and/or present as experts. Taft’s (2015) work on the Peruvian children’s working movement explores how intergenerational collaboration when embedded in contexts of age-based inequality can reinforce disempowering dynamics. This case and others serve as an important caution to those supporting youth initiatives. Without adequate self-reflection and top-down capacity-building and commitment to address power imbalances, our efforts can unintentionally uphold youth marginalisation.

MAP’s openness to addressing these challenges and others suggests that the next stages of the project will be exciting places for learning and practicing how adults can learn to work with youth in bottom-up policy initiatives.

[1] For more on types of power, see VeneKlasen and Miller (2002)

Experience of Curriculum Implementation in Palpa, Nepal – Tirtha Prasad Gautam

Experience of Curriculum Implementation in Palpa, Nepal – Tirtha Prasad Gautam

Tirtha Prasad Gautam

Focal teacher, Janapriya Child Club

Janapriya Secondary School, Tansen Palpa Nepal

Member of Curriculum Development Committee, Tansen Municipality, Palpa

Edition: Camilo Soler Caicedo

Caption: Activities in Palpa and Kanchanpur District

Nepal is a beautiful mountainous country. The Himalayas are full of diversity as they are a combination of mountains and plains. Being a country with about 123 castes and 125 languages, it is also culturally rich. Nepal is the country of the world’s highest peak Mount Everest, the messenger of peace, Gautama Buddha, and Pashupatinath, the idol of Hindus. About 10 religious sects live in Nepal, the land of nature priests. Although not rich in terms of population and geography, it is a rich and prosperous country in terms of diversity, my dear motherland Nepal.

Palpa district is located in the middle of Nepal, extending 1000 km east-west and 200 km north-south. My school Sri Janapriya Secondary School is located in Tansen Municipality, the headquarters of this district. Janapriya Children’s Club is actively established for the development of the multifaceted talents of the students of this school. Janapriya Child Club, a project run by the Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) project under the initiative of the Human Rights Film Center, has been running within this school and service area for the past two years. I would like to thank the MAP and the school administration for being associated with this project as I myself am the focal teacher of Child Club.

After the MAP project was implemented in the school, it was felt that there was a difference in the activities expressed by the students. Not only did students’ learning and achievement rates improve, but their ability to take social responsibility also changed positively. There was a radical change in student participation in all school activities. The children’s club started to organize the Friday program which is conducted every week. Children’s bulletins were published fortnightly. Cleaning of the school premises, construction of gardens, pasting of posters and pamphlets against superstitions and stereotypes started. Students began to present their expression through art. The environment of the school has become very beautiful by putting their words through paintings, short stories, plays, poems, songs, comics, movies etc. It has been realized that learning life and art are complementary to each other. Various practices have proven that no matter how complex a problem is expressed through the medium of art, it becomes easier and the initiative to solve it becomes easier. There was a lack of hygiene materials available in the school. One day, there was a discussion in the office about the picture of Kucho, which was given to the headmaster as a gift by the president of the children’s club. No, why this picture of Kucho came as a gift, and the class teachers said, there are not enough materials needed for cleaning in the classroom. It was concluded that their demands should be met soon. On the same day, after office hours, the headmaster asked the accountant to bring 12/12 bins for dust collection and collection baskets. The moment when the students greeted with loud applause when it was made available during tomorrow’s prayer time is still fresh in my mind. That’s why I like to say that art is an indispensable part of teaching and learning.

Meanwhile, the Government of Nepal issued a circular that all local levels should create a local curriculum of 100 full marks and implement it from the next academic session. Tansen municipality formed a 9-member curriculum development and writing committee including me. A time limit has been set for creating the curriculum to be implemented from the next academic session. We asked the team to work to create the curriculum and created a plan and schedule. According to the schedule, we Swaroop car owners conducted direct meeting, interaction and meetings. Meanwhile, the second wave of COVID-19 3 took place. All educational institutions were closed and stopped. Learning, teaching and all activities of daily life took a short break. All the activities in the school were stopped and we teachers were worried. The solution to the problem was not solved due to the mind being disturbed. Let’s remember some of the activities learned while cooperating with MAP Association. . A little hope rose in my heart and I prepared the lesson material accordingly and recorded it on my mobile phone and started connecting with the students. Students also joined enthusiastically. Our presence reached the homes of students through Messenger groups. At the same time, art was used excessively in teaching and learning. A new dimension has been added to the use of art and technology in learning. In fact, in terms of teaching and learning, it can be called work efficiency. But the construction campaign of the curriculum was still in progress. After life became somewhat normal, classes started to be conducted in direct contact.

Caption: Student Practising Mobile Video Film Making – Janapriya Secondary School


As the normal daily life resumed, the local curriculum building campaign came alive again and our committee was revived with effect from the next academic session. Work was being done to collect the expectations of Socar people. Further, the technical experts who embodied it had to be tasked. In two meetings, the means of meeting the expectations of stakeholders were discussed. But finding the right tool was confusing. During this time, we remembered about the Problem Tree. While thinking about that, we started to understand the whole of Nepal and the local environment.

The whole of Nepal is like a miniature Nepal under Tansen Mayor. The caste characteristics, religious, linguistic, etc., are remembered here.

It is felt that MAP has come to solve the problem. Six genres were transformed into fields to make it a reality.

  1. Introduction to Tansen Municipality
  2. Tourism and Tansen
  3. Careers Business and Technology
  4. Arts and Heritage
  5. Health Hygiene and Sports
  6. Moral values ​​and useful life skills

After creating the subject area, if art can be the invaluable fund that connects the teaching and learning method and the evaluation method, for our reason, the theoretical and practical aspects were divided into 50 / 50 percent and the evaluation tool was decided. As a result, opportunities to develop students’ talents through project work were arranged. The curriculum which has been implemented in all schools of Tansen Municipality today.

I think my passion for art would have been comparatively less if I had not been associated with MAP. I have been working as a teacher for the past 29 years. In terms of educational qualification, I have done master’s degree in educational planning and management. However, MAP has realized the role of curriculum development during teaching and learning and educational management. I am pleased with the work of MAP. MAP has taken an incomparable role in the moral and social responsibility of the local curriculum. Its contribution should be properly evaluated and requested for cooperation with contact persons of Nepal Bishnu Khatri, Rajib Timalsina, Pandav Khatri and Mayor Ashok Kumar Shahi. MAP played an important role and the mayor decided to take this project to the executive meeting. In addition, the Municipality has given permission to be the MAP publisher and take the local syllabus for 1500 copies by raising the cost of printing the booklet. As a result, this course has been implemented within the Tansen city area today. I would like to thank all the thinkers who have directly and indirectly helped in making this course. Finally, I will leave by just thanking Ananda Breed, the big sister of us all.


Reflections on Agents of Change Webinar – Ayesha Mohanty

Reflections on Agents of Change Webinar – Ayesha Mohanty

Author: Ayesha Mohanty

Edition: Camilo Soler Caicedo

Caption: Kyrgyzstan’s Team Presentation, part of the Agents of Change Webinar



If you wish to envision the future of world peace, young people from the MAP project shall be your reflective lens. From Nepal to Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia to Rwanda, the young peacebuilders from these regions, equipped with the tools of arts-based research, documented critical issues that they believed impacted their society. Traditionally while these approaches are utilized for peacebuilding endeavors in reconciliation processes, today, there is a need for incorporating the same into preventive efforts and driving more targeted interventions.

In the context of the Agents of Change event on the 24th May 2022 Each project developed by the teams communicated challenges that often went unnoticed in transitional societies and used the skills learned through the Small Grants Project to bridge meaningful participation and partnership for their communities. While navigating through the stigmas and prejudices that marginalized people in their communities face, the teams brought a multitude of creative outcomes. Documented through films, posters, photographs, stories, and comic strips, the young people ensured adequate safeguards by working with skilled professionals such as lawyers, trainers, community leaders, and psychologists to drive their interventions. For example, in a project involving violence against the children of migrants, the members were working with high-risk and vulnerable children prone to anxiety and trauma. Using mitigation measures like involving a psychologist and legal professionals, the team parallelly encouraged legal advice and therapy for those who sought the same. Aside from the mitigation measures, the teams took cognizance of the broader historical context of the region. For example, the project in Nepal identified the ethnic and socio-cultural conflicts that impacted their societies. Integrating a bottom-up approach toward policy intervention, the team used multiple channels for continued advocacy on the issues.

Based on the foundation of the “Theory of Change” analysis, each of the projects reflected a sincere effort to dig deeper into the immediate problems that their communities faced and the existing gaps within the institutional structures – both formal and informal. Through inter-generational dialogues with key decision-makers, they furthered the historical roots of their culture and carried it with a fresh perspective towards the future with the use of social media as a critical channel for communicating their assessments. The event also fostered intercultural learning amongst the team members of different countries and as a member of the audience, one could also identify the common concerns for the protection of the vulnerable and the prevention of the atrocities against those marginalized despite the geographical barriers.

A key highlight for me was the keen awareness and recognition of the diverse socio-cultural factors by young people and their usage in the planning, designing, and implementation of the project based on the arts-based tools. For example, the team in Rwanda took cognizance of the long history of war and conflict that has fractured the society. Involving elements of transitional justice as a part of solutions and recommendations while simultaneously working with the members of the civil society to transform the situation for children was critical. As the teams realize the projects alongside the communities they serve, it is a hope that the documentation of these lived experiences that is often unnoticed realizes into concrete policy efforts by local, state, and national governance.

About Ayesha:

Ayesha is an incoming LLM student at Georgetown University for the academic year 2022-23 on the prestigious Georgetown Merit Scholarship. In the recent past, Ayesha co-lead the Youth Wellbeing team under the UNESCO Youth as Researcher program for the Asia-Pacific Region . Here, she represented both in the Knowledge-sharing Meeting and High-Level Political Conference advocating for the access to mental healthcare within the region for university students with various stakeholders. Her priority interest areas are in security issues, human rights laws and peacebuilding that impact lives of young people through the intersection of mental health, gender and technology.

You can also access the whole Webinar recording here

How Can Young People Engage Policy-makers?

How Can Young People Engage Policy-makers?

Author: Ananda Breed

Edition: Camilo Soler Caicedo


Caption: Policy Brief created by MAP Youth Researchers in Kyrgyzstan

Art-based methods enable different stakeholders and audiences to engage with critical ideas and issues. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project ‘Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP): Informing the National Curriculum and Youth Policy for Peacebuilding in Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Indonesia and Nepal’ aims to explore the use of art-based methods to enable communication structures between young people and decision-makers from local to regional levels. In a MAP webinar on 10 May 2022, young researchers from 16 participating MAP Youth Researcher Clubs in Kyrgyzstan and six MAP Child Clubs in Nepal demonstrated how they used art-based research methods to explore underlying issues and problems and to communicate these issues with local and regional decision-makers. Experts from the Open Innovation Team, a UK cross-government unit that works with academics to help officials generate analysis and ideas for priority projects, served as respondents. In relation to creating systemic change, respondents stated that it would be important to build a consortium with like-minded organisations or projects to help put pressure on decision-making or policy-making bodies. The webinar enabled the MAP team and webinar attendees to think deeper about next steps concerning how art-based methods might enable shifts in behaviour and attitude in relation to practices that might be embedded within certain cultures. For instance, there is legislation against child abuse in relation to migration in Kyrgyzstan, but some of the practices have become normalised. Art-based outputs including posters, drawings, films, and performances demonstrated the impact of these social issues on the lived experience of young people. Findings related to the causes and recommended solutions to the issues identified by the young researchers, that evolved through conversations between young people and local decision-makers, were incorporated into policy briefs. In our next ‘Agents of Change’ webinar on 24 May 2022, young researchers from all of the four countries will share their youth-led research projects including art-based outputs and policy briefs through a virtual exhibit with respondents from UNESCO. MAP will continue to engage local and regional decision-makers as we move to the next phase of the project which will focus on building communication structures between young people and policy-makers from local to regional to national levels.

You can register now to our upcoming ‘Agents of Change’ Webinar, or contact the Principal Investigator (PI) Professor Ananda Breed. 

Small Grants to Grant Young People a Voice

Small Grants to Grant Young People a Voice

Caption: A Young participant drawing a Conflict Tree

As a general trend, policy-informing projects in Nepal are decided by donors and decisions are made from the top-down. Young people are often only at the receiving end of development and research projects.

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) Nepal allowed young people to brainstorm and develop a research project by themselves and implement it through the Small Grant Project Call.

From January-April 2022, seven child clubs implemented small grant projects on several topics including caste-based discrimination, gender-based violence, human trafficking, and drug abuse. In this blog, I am writing on how those issues and topics were selected by MAP Child Clubs in Nepal for MAP Small Grant Projects.

In a workshop organized by MAP Nepal team on 27th April 2022, the Small Grants Grantee shared the process how had they chosen issues and topic for the projects. Based on the responses collected in the workshop, I grouped the ideas into five major stages:

  1. Collection of ideas and issues through self-realization/peer observations by young people
  2. Analysing the issues through Conflict Tree Methods
  3. Consultation among child club members
  4. Consultations with teachers and parents
  5. Partnership with other local stakeholders.


Young people engaged in workshop on 27th April 2022

A conflict tree analysis of drug abuse among young people prepared by one of MAP Nepal Club Member.

First, teams of 4-15 young people were formed in each school, where they had preliminary discussion meetings. They collected possible ideas, and the issues that they are facing. The ideas and issues were shortlisted giving priorities to the issues which are directly experienced by the team members or their peers. For example, a MAP club from Palpa district shared that one of their child club members got married at the age of 14 when she was studying at grade 9, hence, they prioritized child marriage issue on the top. A MAP club from Kanchanpur district shared that they found one of their peer’s attendances to school was irregular because he had to work to make a living, thus they decided to focus on child labour issues.

After the selection of the key issues, all the clubs used Conflict Tree Methods to analyze the issues. They looked at the root causes and effects of the problem. Then, they consulted back with all club members. After discussion, the issues and their analysis were note down and they asked teachers and parents for help. Finally, our MAP Nepal youth clubs collaborated with school management committees, Parents Teachers Association, Mothers Committee, Local Government, Local Music and Arts clubs, Local Artists, Nepal Police, and other local CSOs. They consulted with these local partners and involved them in the small grants’ activities.


Young people engaged in workshop – 27th April 2022

The small grant project allowed young people to gain initiative and leadership skills along with opportunities for co-creation, collaboration, and project planning.

The Small Grant project – supported by MAP – fostered a bottom-up approach in the creation of research and development agendas, thus, allowing young people to move beyond the role of beneficiaries into active creators.

We invite other researchers to give young people an active role in deciding the most pressing issues for research, and to give them a voice in the decision-making process.

How Does It All End?

How Does It All End?

Author: Harla Octarra

Edition: Camilo Soler Caicedo


Stigma is adding to the pain of victims of sexual violence, particularly adolescent girls in urban poor communities of East Jakarta. The stigma tends to overlook the disabling environment causing the girls to be at risk of sexual violence. MAP young researchers created a short film to address the problem. The film will be a research tool to create dialogue with community members about stigma and the causes of sexual violence.

The young researchers led all the stages of filmmaking together, had their say about different pros and cons in the contents of the script, and debated different technical choices. Before creating the film, they sent out questionnaires to community members and interviewed adolescent survivors of sexual violence in order to create the script. They consulted Kalamtara, MAP partner filmmakers, from writing down a synopsis, to the cast rehearsal, filming and editing. In particular, the technicalities of filming were also assisted by young people of Jakaringan Cinema, a film-based advocacy youth groups based in East Jakarta.

In back-to-back discussions between Kalamtara filmmakers and young researchers, the researchers learned about what films should be and how to plan each production stage. Meanwhile, the filmmakers learned how to guide young people to create films they were passionate about. This process ultimately led to a discussion on how the film should end. In the young researchers’ view, the film should have no ending because they wanted to use the film in dialogues with community members to help find solutions. For the filmmakers, the film should at least show the main character is challenging the status quo or trying to get out of the violent situation.

The ongoing nature of the collaboration between young researchers and filmmakers constitutes a great example of what we consider a participatory arts-based approach.

You can find the final film in Indonesia’s Artistic Outputs page.



Training of Young Changemakers in Kyrgyzstan

Training of Young Changemakers in Kyrgyzstan

Authors: Anara Eginalieva, Tajyka Shabdanova, Helena-Ulrike Marambio


‘I will no longer believe in the word “impossible”, [instead] I will act’ stated one young participant after the attending a five-day ‘Training the Trainers’ (TOT) workshop organised by the Kyrgyz non-profit organisation and MAP partner Foundation for Tolerance International (FTI). FTI ran a series of five-day TOTs with young people and educators across the country. The blended face-to-face and online workshop sessions were organised in partnership with 16 schools in Batken, Osh, and Jalal-Abad provinces (oblasts), and the new migrant settlements around the capital city of Bishkek. The MAP partnerships enabled FTI to train over 140 schoolchildren between 14 and 18 years, and 8 teachers between November 2020 and March 2021.

Participants from new migrant settlements (Bishkek)


The training aimed: a) to enhance critical thinking introduce young people to research methods; b) to explore creative and artistic tools; and c) to increase young people’s self-confidence and self-esteem in order to engage with diverse audiences. By including educators as trainees (and eventual trainers), FTI aimed to raise awareness about creative methods to facilitate two-way, intergenerational communication between young people and adults.


Critical thinking 

Creative exercises like the ‘Conflict Tree’ helped young people to identify the root causes of problems and their consequences. Young people shared personal and community-based issues such as the theme ‘family conflicts’ and its effect on their motivation to study. In addition to this, participants identified issues such as the precarious situation of young people whose parents migrated to other countries for work and the influence of social media on people’s time and self-perception. After a first round of brainstorming, each group was asked to pick a specific problem and to analyse its root causes and consequences in depth. The results were presented to the whole group as a means to develop the young people’s confidence in public speaking and to extend peer-to-peer and community-based problem-solving.

Following the conflict analysis via ‘Conflict Tree’, FTI carried out a mapping exercise that signposted young people to relevant organisations, local authorities, and individuals who could help to address the identified problems. During the activity, one young participant stated: ‘I did not think about our problems before. Now, I want teachers, the mayor, and the police to know our problems.’ Another young person from Jalal-Abad stated: ‘This [training] pushed me to think about various problems in our village; now I look at the problem from different perspectives.’


Young researchers: ‘It’s about unravelling something’

FTI created 16 MAP Young Researcher Clubs to train the youth research participants in critical thinking and research methods. During the first activity, young researchers explored the meaning of ‘research’, its purpose, and research approaches. To prompt the conversation, FTI asked participants to think about the beneficiaries of their study and how they could use the findings. Young participants commented: ‘It’s about unravelling something’; ‘It’s an analysis’; and ‘It’s to investigate the problems [and] to solve them correctly.’ Moreover, young people considered the purpose and advantage of ‘collaborative action research.’ They recognised the value of a research team – its strength based on the members’ varying skills and talents – and its efficiency resulting from the possibility to distribute tasks, to consider varying viewpoints, and to share responsibilities. Moreover, they examined the characteristics of a researcher through the exercise ‘Super Explorer’ that asked participants to compile a list of required skills, abilities, and tools of a good researcher. Based on discussions, young people were able to list several skills (e.g. good observer, clear writing), abilities (e.g. patient, tolerant, flexible), and tools (e.g. pen, paper, recorder, documents). They also reflected on their weaknesses, like lack of punctuality and patience.

Conflict analysis (Batken)

In the training, FTI focused on conflict analysis and the active participation of young people in decision-making at a community level. To this end, as part of the first exercise, participants had to sort a set of cards in chronological order that featured six research stages and tasks (research topic; target research participants; research methods supporting data collection and analysis; and ways to disseminate the findings). Next, participants were divided into groups. Each group had to decide upon a problem and explain the steps and measures they would take to design a research proposal to examine the youth-based issue. The ‘problem’ had to meet three criteria: 1) it needed to have an impact on a great number of people, 2) it had to influence the development of young people and, 3) it had to be resolvable at the local level. In Jalal-Abad and Osh oblast, participants chose to present a study on the lack of interest in education by youth. The proposed research question sought to examine the reasons for their disinterest. In Jalal-Abad, participants aimed to collect data through surveys with students of grades 9 to 11 and count the responses. Furthermore, they proposed to present their findings through video clips and forum theatre. Young people from Osh took a slightly different approach – they surveyed teachers, students, and parents, and presented their findings through drawings and video clips. At this point of the training, both adults and young people were struggling with the final step – the dissemination of findings.

‘You feel that you are treated like an adult’

Overall, the exercise sought to place young people in the position of decision-making: what type of problem would they pick and how would they tackle it? How would they discuss and take decisions? By the end of the TOT, an adult research participant from Osh (educator) observed a change in the attitude and behaviour of participants during the TOT as well as an increased level of tolerance and respect for the opinions of other students in class. This observation was made by other adult participants who noticed a general change in the attitude and behaviour of schoolchildren after the training in both ways – among their peers and with educators. One youth participant noted: ‘In [this] project I really like the fact that you can speak openly about the problems that bother you. You feel that you are treated like an adult, a full-fledged person, they [MAP team and educators] give you the opportunity to convey your opinion to others.’

To deepen participants’ analytical skills, FTI carried out two activities that focused on the cause and consequences of a problem as well as affected persons and other stakeholders. Young people from Chui (a new settlement around the capital of Bishkek), talked about the absence of a psychologist at school due to a lack of state funding. Another obstacle identified was the lack of awareness of the role and relevance of a psychologist by teachers and parents. The overall lack of awareness and knowledge were determined as reasons that led to a rising trend of suicides among young people and youth, intergenerational conflicts between children and parents, teachers and pupils, as well as growing cases of mental health conditions in the community. To interrogate and visualise young people’s concerns, groups were asked to develop a ‘Conflict Tree’ to be presented to the group. The day closed with a mapping of the target groups who are directly affected by the problem, immediate stakeholders (other individuals who are also impacted by the situation) and indirect stakeholders (individuals or institutions that seek to address an issue). The last activity was challenging for many participants who were not familiar with governmental structures and other existing organisations. However, they were able to point to several affected groups, such as young people, parents, teachers, youth committees, NGOs and community leaders and community activists. Whilst reflecting, FTI considered the necessary step to introduce and clarify the term ‘decision-maker’, his/ her tasks, and ways to interact with the corresponding individual.


Arts-based Methods

FTI introduced arts-based methods including forum theatre and film making, among others, to enable young people to communicate their problems and potential solutions. To begin the discussion on arts-based communication, FTI asked young people to reflect on ‘communication’, its meaning and what it takes to create a meaningful conversation and to transmit a powerful message. Some participants stressed the usefulness of drawings to convey a message. One participant recognised the value of traditional Kyrgyz art to bring people together: ‘Art unites us. If we look at the works of Chinghiz Aitmatov [Kyrgyz novelist], they unite us.’ By choosing different arts-based forms, FTI equipped the trainees with additional tools to reach out to various social groups from local (e.g. peer, parents, teachers), regional (e.g. Mayor’s Office) to national levels (e.g. Ministry of Education) – either online through social media or face-to-face.

Forum theatre (Batken)

At first, FTI introduced ‘forum theatre’, its methodology, the roles, and rules (i.e. the interaction between the actor(s) and the audience facilitated by a Joker). Then, FTI encouraged participants to think about different situations in their communities and to share moments in which a person tried to do something but was faced with various obstacles. In the next step, young people had to select a story that set the baseline for two scripts and productions. In Batken, participants opted for alcohol abuse by a family father and the negative impact of early marriage on a female young person. Most people, both male and female, stressed that girls and women are always blamed for existing problems in daily life. In turn, participants took up different roles in the forum theatre performance – this way, they got the opportunity to familiarise themselves with this tool from different perspectives. Furthermore, they discussed the ability of forum theatre to visualise and transmit their research findings and engage in a dialogue with the audience to find joint solutions for identified problems.

Subsequently, FTI used video and different social media channels to share young people’s concerns and research findings. It further explored the link between video clips, social media, and social activism. As one young participant noted: ‘Social networks are a platform to exchange information with your eyes.’ Moreover, FTI showed participants how to develop video scripts, filming (e.g. angles) and editing before asking each group to develop their video clips. These clips were quite diverse and ranged from patriarchal structures, environmental pollution to corruption and problems to access education.

‘There are no languages in art, there are no barriers to understand each other.’

Video clip production (Osh)

Throughout the sessions, young people considered the usefulness and feasibility of each tool for specific issues of concern. One participant stated: ‘There are no languages in art, there are no barriers to understand each other. I believe that with the help of art, we [can] raise important problems of young people and bring them to our deputies and ministers.’  Another young person reflected on the presence of art in daily life and its potential for conflict prevention: ‘If we get a little closer to the arts, people would not have time for conflicts. I have never thought about the role of art in our life before; it turns out it surrounds us everywhere!’ Participants – schoolchildren and educators – echoed the potential of the arts to communicate issues of concern and address them through creative dialogue. In an interview after the training, one educator shared her plans to use forum theatre and video in parent-teacher meetings to raise awareness about the impact of parental conflicts on children.

In feedback sheets, participants expressed the impact the training had on their personal perceptions of arts-based research.  One participant from Chui wrote: ‘Before I [did not think that I could] be a director, actress, [and] editor – now I am sure that I can!’ Another person stated: ‘For forum theatre and the filming of video stories, [it is] necessary [to be] skill[ed] in teamwork, balancing [opinions], good thinking, strong energy, [and] creative search.’


Self-esteem and self-confidence

Energizer (Batken)

Throughout the training, FTI collected various statements by young people who continuously expressed their change of mind and personal development. Several of them mentioned feelings of shyness, insecurity to express their opinion, and perceived lack of talents at the start of the training. This changed dramatically and ranged from feelings of comfort to speak in front of a group, the ability and freedom to share one’s thoughts (‘listen and be listened to’), the feeling of being taken seriously as an adult, and the skillset to identify and address a problem. The gained confidence and developed skillset to express oneself supported the group dynamics in class – some young people who were struggling with learning and socialising were able to communicate better with educators and peers, and developed a renewed interest in education. Overall, young people become more mindful and proactive in addressing issues for conflict prevention. At the end of the five days, one participant concluded: ‘Even if I cannot solve the problems of the [whole] village, I can freely express my thoughts now.’



We would like to thank FTI’s staff members Shakhsanam AkmatalievaNurgul Sultanova, Cholpon Kylzhyrova, and Bakhram Rakhmankulov for their invaluable insights.

Office of Special Representatives – Children As Agents of Positive Change

Office of Special Representatives – Children As Agents of Positive Change

Mobile Arts for Peace is a hub for resources and toolkits relating to arts-led peacebuilding initiatives. MAP’s website features recommendations for practitioners and researchers. The contents are the sole responsibility of the UN

This report was issued by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children. 


Nepal MAP

Children as Agents of Positive Change

Dialogue for Peace: Arts-Based Approaches and the Growth of MAP Dialogue Clubs in Rwanda

Dialogue for Peace: Arts-Based Approaches and the Growth of MAP Dialogue Clubs in Rwanda

Authors: Eric Ndushabandi, Victor Ntezirembo, and Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo.

Edited by Helena-Ulrike Marambio

Arts-based approaches to fostering dialogue have been increasingly used in peacebuilding efforts to advance reconciliation and healing in countries emerging from conflict. In Rwanda, Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) has promoted the inclusion and active participation of youth in national peace programmes since 2018. To this end, MAP has adopted different arts-based methods that facilitate two-way communications between youth and local stakeholders on the one hand, and youth and policymakers on the other. This blog looks at how this has developed and how MAP is currently growing its dialogue clubs in the country.


In peacebuilding practices, dialogue is a long-term process that seeks to resolve, to transform, and to prevent underlying tensions and violence caused by complex layers of conflict between two or more parties (Bohm 1996; Bourquin 2003). It can be applied to address both intra- and intergroup disputes (Feller and Ryan 2012; Sternberg 2018). According to the Cambridge Dictionary (2021), ‘dialogue’ refers to ‘a serious exchange of opinion, especially among people or groups that disagree.’ Over the past decades, peacebuilding practitioners have focused on the use of dialogue to reconcile communities in different post-conflict settings (Aarbakke 2002; Dessel and Rogge 2008; Zartman 2008; Stearns 2018; Komlossyová 2019; GPPAC 2019).

Dialogue focuses on establishing trust, sharing personal experiences, and building skills in active listening. It allows individuals to discuss the past events that continue to live in people’s minds and bodies. These moments of personal storytelling can support the process of individual and group healing, reconciliation, and trust-building among former parties in conflict. In the course of time, dialogue alongside conflict analysis can provide knowledge and understanding regarding the root causes to conflict (Musafiri 2013; Wallace et al. 2014; Davis et al. 2019; IRDPa 2020). Exchanges within the group can contribute to awareness of existing prejudices and stereotypes to rectify misinformation or to deepen the understanding about other individuals or groups (Komlossyová 2019; IRDPb 2020). Through dialogue, groups might also come to agreement concerning how to communicate to each other and to mediate future problems (Arai 2015). To succeed, dialogic activities are usually tailored to the cultural background of the target community (Bourquin 2003). Arts-based methods for dialogue range from locally grounded interactive theatre plays, songs, dance to wall paintings (Mitchell et al. 2020). However, while dialogue can be quite constructive, it is not an easy art. 


Community Dialogue in Rwanda


In Rwanda, dialogue has been applied for more than 20 years to reconcile and to unify the country after the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 (Bagilishya 2000; Brown 2008; Clark 2014; UNESCO 2019). That traumatic event left deep wounds that are still felt within society. Everyday peace demands efforts from all parties – victims often live side-by-side with their perpetrators who may be a family member or neighbour. Many people – survivors and perpetrators – also suffer from symptoms related to post traumatic stress disorder (Munyandamutsa 2012; Specia 2017). Several individuals struggle with mental health and/or a disability (Petroze et al. 2015) that affects the entire family, including children and youth (Rugema et al. 2015).

Under such circumstances, healing, reconciliation, and trust-building are difficult to achieve. Moreover, building a nation for all Rwandans requires an equal participation of all groups of society, particularly children and youth who are growing up in the aftermath of genocide (Pells 2009a; 2009b). However, it is them – the next generation – who are often not treated as equal members within the decision-making process.

Despite their marginalization, it is notable that children and youth have increasingly taken up leading roles in conflict transformation and prevention through in- and out-of-school clubs. Equipped with the necessary skills and tools, children and youth have proven their ability to positively influence peaceful conflict mediation and co-existence at school, within their families and the wider community (International Alert 2019; IRDPb 2020). The creation and functioning of dialogue clubs have been supported by national and international organisations that have seen the key role the next generation could play in bringing sustained peace to Rwanda (e.g. Aegis Trust et al. 2017; Benda 2017; International Alert 2019).

IRDP’s Dialogue Clubs


Since its foundation in 2001, the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in Kigali, Rwanda, has established dialogue clubs throughout the country to promote reconciliation, social cohesion, and conflict prevention on a local level. People get the opportunity to reflect about Rwanda’s future, particularly regarding co-existence and the use of their dialogue club to inform policymakers. Moreover, these clubs offer a space for youth and adults to come together to advance intergenerational dialogue (UNESCO 2019; Karuna et al. 2019; IRDPa 2020).



IRDP’s dialogue club meetings happen at least two times each month. The clubs are usually composed of up to 30 members of varying ages who were affected differently by genocidal violence, or who took different stances towards it. Hence, club participants might include female and male survivors, returnees, youth (descendants of survivors, orphans, and those born out of rape), bystanders, and perpetrators. Most of the time, these clubs emerged upon the expression of interest by community members themselves. According to IRDP’s staff observations, it is the pro-active, self-initiating communities that have been more open to engaging with distinct arts-based dialogue approaches.

The dialogue exercises in the clubs are facilitated by community members who took part in the IRDP’s training on open dialogue and observation techniques. In this training they also learn ways to give feedback to individuals who have finished an exercise, as well as skills and tools on how to create appropriate conditions for sensitive topics (i.e. safe space, respectful language, comfortableness). During the initial phase of each dialogue club in the villages, IRDP staff applied a participatory action research approach to identifying suitable local trainers based on their performance in awareness sessions on dialogue and related activities. By selecting and training local people, the IRDP sought to build sustainable structures for dialogue clubs and to transmit knowledge and skills to more remote areas in the country.

To date, IRDP clubs have developed into well-established hubs for dialogue that bridge the communication gap between the grassroots and the regional and national levels through continuous meetings during the year. In these encounters, community leaders take the opportunity to address issues of concern that require regional and/or national support. Additionally, the National Listening Session provides the possibility for community leaders, civil society organisations, and policymakers to discuss ongoing measures for peacebuilding, look at potential challenges for their implementation and for attaining a sustainable peace, and exchange stories of success and lessons learned.


The Emergence of MAP Clubs


IRDP’s experiences with dialogue in Rwandan communities, the incorporation of youth, the use of participatory action research, as well as the integration of arts-based approaches have led to a partnership with MAP in 2018. As part of its main objectives, MAP has sought to grow youth-participation in peacebuilding initiatives, and to introduce diverse arts-based practices as a tool for conflict transformation and prevention. To achieve the first objective, in 2019, MAP and the IRDP decided to accelerate the involvement of children and youth by setting up 25 MAP clubs in collaboration with 25 Rwandan schools in five districts (Huye, Gicumbi, Rubavu, Kicukiro, and Rwamagana). This initiative was part of the AHRC Follow-On Impact project entitled Ubwuzu: Shaping the Rwandan National Curriculum through Arts led by Principal Investigator (PI) Ananda Breed.

The ‘MAP Clubs’ evolved from a series of workshops with schoolchildren, teachers, and local artists that promoted youth-led and participatory arts-based methods for peacebuilding (Breed et al. 2018; Breed 2019). During the sessions, pupils and educators engaged with a combination of local and regional art forms (e.g. bleach painting, Umuduri music, traditional songs, dance) and MAP’s methodologies (participatory art exercises and games) to enhance the development of youth leadership. The sessions also invited participants to reflect about creative two-way communication channels between schoolchildren and teachers but also between youth and adults in general. Other methods, like storytelling and plays grounded in Augusto Boal’s ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ (1974) provided a space for participants to share challenges and to consider solutions through conflict analysis. To assure the sustainability of MAP Clubs, MAP also offered training for youth facilitators and educators (‘MAP master trainers’) on dialogue and peacebuilding carried out by and for children and youth. These trainings created awareness about a diverse range of arts-based methods, including mobile filmmaking – introduced by the renowned Rwandan filmmaker Eric Kabera – and audio recording of poems on mobile phones. The series of trainings and workshops in 2019 ended with the organisation of MAP youth camps to promote creative discussions through the use of interactive drama and storytelling. Some of the issues identified became the basis for policy briefs drafted by youth that were then delivered to representatives of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), UNESCO, and the Rwanda Education Board (REB) during a stakeholder event focusing on Arts-based Methods and Digital Technology for Peacebuilding during the time of COVID (August 2020).


Arts-Based Training for Growth


In 2020, as part of the MAP Network Plus project, Co-Investigator Dr Eric Ndushabandi (Executive Director, IRDP) and Victor Ntezirembo (Project Coordinator, IRDP) have focused on the geographic expansion by linking the 25 MAP clubs and participating schools with IRDP’s dialogue clubs that were created in each of the five districts. The purpose of expanding MAP to link with the dialogue clubs was to extend MAP from in-school clubs to the community. To this end, a five-day training was conducted at IRDP from 25 to 30 October 2020 in Kigali for 25 club members from five districts (Gicumbi, Rubavu, Kirehe, Gisagara, Bugesera). These sessions were facilitated by six local MAP master trainers (originally trained by MAP’s PI Ananda Breed in 2017) and two psychosocial workers.

The training sought to familiarize trainees with MAP participatory arts methods and IRDP community dialogue methods to enhance dialogue, conflict analysis and problem solving with a focus on arts-based methods. Participants were introduced to interactive theatre techniques including Playback Theatre, Image Theatre, and Forum Theatre. Participatory exercises helped participants to express themselves through body language (Playback Theatre), to create powerful frozen scenes (Image Theatre), and to develop skills for improvisation on stage through unscripted plays (Forum Theatre).

During the sessions, youth discussed the feasibility of employing each of these forms to address particular matters of concern for community members. They also explored the potential for each form to create meaningful debates that support the process of finding solutions to maintain peaceful coexistence by identifying everyday problems. Moreover, participants reflected on their roles as facilitators and the resulting possibilities for youth to lead specific debates within their communities.

The sessions were highly interactive and practice-orientated and focused on youth and the development of their skills as central to the MAP methodology and training process. Youth were taught applicable tools to advance critical thinking in terms of conflict analysis and transformation, using exercises such as the Obstacle Tree that allows for participants to identify a problem, its root causes, and possible solutions. Throughout the course of the training, the participants gained self-esteem and self-confidence to present themselves as well as to speak to a wider audience. One youth trainer stated: ‘Before [the training] I was not skilled; I was not able to analyse a conflict or a problem. Now I am different. I am able to think about a problem and analyse it, and try to find a solution. And I can help others. Now I have the confidence. Now I can talk to a small group and large group. Now I am very confident.’


The Power of Storytelling


The training concluded with a session on the power of sharing personal stories within a group. The story circle was facilitated by a psychosocial worker who explained the healing effect of sharing that enables a person to receive support from others (either emotionally or physically) who are facing or have overcome a similar situation. Several participants expressed their feelings and concerns about family conflicts, the prevailing impact of the genocide, and poverty. For some of them, it was the first time that they had shared their story. Deep listening and the inclusion of psychosocial workers in trainings and activities is another element of the MAP methodology.

The training of MAP youth club-facilitators created a space for creativity, learning, sharing and healing. Furthermore, it offered a space for connection during the lockdown. Most participants noted their negative thoughts or feelings of uncertainty before their arrival and recognised a change of their mood over the training days. Discussions on the value of dialogic forms of performance in relation to community concerns and the practical exercises and guidance motivated the new MAP youth trainers to apply the acquired tools and skills in their communities. MAP is currently monitoring the progress.

Working towards sustainable peace requires the active and equal participation of all groups in society. The promotion of arts-based methods for dialogue to enhance two-way communications between youth and adults, especially adults who are policymakers, is a critical step in this direction. Over the next months, MAP will analyse its findings on the evolution of MAP dialogue clubs in different schools and communities. Keep following us to find out more about our work in Rwanda.




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Ubwuzu enabled the creation of a Cultural Artist Network and Youth Advisory Board to inform the design, delivery and implementation of MAP.

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MAP is made possible thanks to the support and funding of the following partners

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MAP at the Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival

MAP at the Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival

Hosted from the 25th-20th November 2020, the Eighth Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival (HRIFF) celebrated the films and filmmakers that spotlight human rights causes and change people’s lives across the world.

The Human Rights Film Center, a MAP partner in Nepal, has organised the HRIFF each year since 2010. Due to COVID-19, this is the first year in which the HRIFF has been hosted online. In 2020, the HRIFF shortlisted 52 films from 29 different countries for this year’s festival. Selected films spanned various formats and topics, from documentary shorts to animations and full-length features about mental health, war, migration, and child soldiers, to list a few topics. In 2020, HRIFF streamed to 100,000 people worldwide, with viewers in countries including the UK, France, Cambodia, and Nepal.

Mobile Arts for Peace was co-partner on the film festival, alongside other supporters, including the European Union, International Organization for Migration, and the Association of Youth Organizations in Nepal.


Highlights of the HRIFF include:

Mobile Arts for Peace documentary (dir. Deus Kwizera, Kwetu Film Institute, Kigali Rwanda).

The HRIFF was the first international premiere of the MAP documentary which focused on MAP’s Ubwuzu project (2019-2020) and documented MAP’s effort to use the MAP methodology to inform Rwanda’s Curriculum Framework and provide arts-based training for educators and young people in each province in Rwanda.

Chitrapuri Nagar (dir. Rajeela Shrestha, Nepal)

In Nepal, a historical route trod for centuries by legions of travellers was suddenly abandoned after the construction of the Tribhuvan Highway. This film focuses on the ancient village at the site, Chitrapuri Nagar, which remains of great socio-cultural importance.

Soundless Dance (dir, Pradeepan Raveendran, France).

In the spring of 2009, Sri Lanka’s decade’s long civil war is entering its most violent phase. Siva, a young Sri Lankan refugee living illegally in France, has lost  contact with the family he was forced to leave behind. Haunted by the trauma of the war that devastated his childhood and obsessed by the flow of images on the Internet, Siva sinks into a waking dream that propels him into the heart of the battlefield.

Can Art Stop Bullet: William Kelly’s Big Picture (dir. Mark Street, Australia)

Can Art temper violence when politics and reason fails? Can art stop bullets? Through the voices of some of the world’s most socially engaged artists and thinkers, William Kelly explores the role of art in achieving change in times of crisis.


Read the full programme for full details of the HRIFF programme

Nepal MAP

Report from Nepal International Human Rights Film Festival

Cultural Artist Network

Ubwuzu enabled the creation of a Cultural Artist Network and Youth Advisory Board to inform the design, delivery and implementation of MAP.

Our Supporters


MAP is made possible thanks to the support and funding of the following partners

Can the Local Arts be Used to Promote Learner Centred Approach and Critical Peace Education for Gender Equality in Japan?

Can the Local Arts be Used to Promote Learner Centred Approach and Critical Peace Education for Gender Equality in Japan?

Can the Local Arts be Used to Promote Learner Centred Approach and Critical Peace Education for Gender Equality in Japan?

By Anna Hata

Why is it important to adapt ‘Mobile Arts for Peace’ in education in Japan?

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP), led by Professor Ananda Breed from the University of Lincoln, has contributed to helping students and teachers exercise a learner-centred approach; using local art forms in a manner that addresses problems in their communities in Rwanda and other post-conflict nations. I participated in the 3-day workshop hosted by MAP from 5-7 August 2020. Through the workshop, I realised the importance of the youth-led social change, and the power of art to create safe spaces where young people can discuss sensitive issues. The workshop made me reflect on challenges in Japan in addressing social problems such as discriminations by gender. I believe that the MAP approach can be adapted to the Japanese context as well, enabling young people to engage the social issue that has persisted for a long term in Japan; gender inequality.

Gender inequality remains a prominent social issue in Japan. Japan ranks 121st among 153 countries in the latest global gender gap index 2020 published by the World Economic Forum. In comparison, many Western countries, including the UK, ranks in the top 30 countries worldwide, and Rwanda ranking 9th globally and 1st in Sub-Saharan Africa, with women accounting for 61% of parliament. In Japan, gender inequality is especially serious in political and economic domains, with only 10% and 5.3% of women in parliament and ministerial positions, respectively. Japan’s low rate of gender equity is noteworthy, and it implies that economic development does not necessarily correlate with human rights movement. It makes us question what is meant by ‘development’, and whether education is contributing to positive change or to reproduce the status quo in Japanese context.


Gender inequality in Japan can be partly attributed to predominance of traditional gender roles that requires men to work in public sphere (politics, decision making/management positions in labour market) and women in private (home). These gender roles were strengthened in the post-war period, after 1945. The rebuilding of the economy after World War Two (WW2) demanded the selfless efforts of the older generations devoting their lives to the company and society. The employment system after the war required men to prioritise their work over their private lives, and the system could function by making women quit their jobs after they get married to become housewives and take a role in child-rearing.

75 years have passed since the end of WW2 and young people have less opportunities participate in conversations on the past nor the root of the gender issues they face, with the older people who remember what happened. History education appears to have been caught in a dilemma between accountability and the reinforcement of collective historical narratives according to the values of the dominant male tradition. However, alternative historical perspectives by gender seem to be often omitted in the classroom.

The situation of gender inequality is gradually improving compared to the past, but discrimination against women, in the labor market for example, still seems to be acceptable, having caused little controversy. In educational terms, it is important to understand what kind of educational inequality exists and how it is related to economic inequalities. Education can be used as a tool to reproduce gender roles. In fact, a medical school deliberately failed women applicants at entrance exams for almost a decade until 2018, because ‘women leave their jobs at high rates’. This logic is legitimised in male-oriented culture in labour markets. Hence, educational inequality can lead to limited opportunities for women to achieve what they value.

It is important to question why these gender issues continue to remain in the long term. One factor would be the strong social norm that, ‘individualization should not be taken to the extreme’ to maintain ‘a balance between the individual wishes of a single person and the general demands of society as imperative’ (Chiavacci, 2005, p.122). The norm to follow the social order may work effectively to control public discourse, but it can also bring negative effects at the individual level and within settings such as family, school and the working environment. It implicitly forces people, especially women, children and other vulnerable social groups, not to openly criticise the injustices imposed by those in power through a patriarchal social system.

How can local arts be used to promote learner centred approach in education for gender equality?

In this context, the role of education to address social issues needs to be emphasised. Peace education would require wider conceptualisation to include both ‘negative peace’ and ‘positive peace’ (Galtung,1969). Negative peace is defined as the absence of direct violence, such as war, sexual abuse and domestic violence. On the other hand, positive peace is defined as absence of indirect violence, such as structural and cultural violence, including sexism and culturally condoned exclusion of disadvantaged social groups. Drawing on the concept of positive peace, critical peace education pays attention to unequal social relations and the potential for educational spaces to bring about individual and collective transformation. It also pays close attention to local context and knowledge generated by communities. Thus, learner-centred approach is important to encourage students to voice their views to create a new insight through dialogue.

In the Japanese context, critical peace education is important but may not be easy for students and teachers to practice. This is because it may take effort to create a space that empowers students to voice their opinions freely and critically discuss gender issues in a classroom where these discussions hardly occur. Moreover, the humbling of the teacher, expected in learner-centred approach, can contradict the traditional power relationship between teacher and student in Japan. This is why the MAP’s approach can facilitate implementation of critical peace education.

The strength of MAP is in using different art forms to enable both students and teachers to feel comfortable to talk about sensitive issues. As one of the cultural art forms in Japan, animation can become a tool to encourage both children and youth easily understand social issues and changes across time. Animation movies have become culture icons in Japan especially since Hayao Miyazaki, an Oscar-winning filmmaker, founded his company, Studio Ghibli, in 1985. As a child, he had to flee his home amid the firebombing during WW2 and witnessed rapid modernisation in post-war Japan. These experiences would have influenced his works, of which feature serious themes such as war, environmental issues, identity, and often tell stories of young girls’ growth in the face of adversity, instead of creating a typical fantasy. He believes that ‘children’s souls are the inheritors of historical memory from previous generations’, and many of his works remain the most popular children’s movies of all time in Japan. These films have been a part of childhood memories for many Japanese young people, and people often rewatch them with their children because they can also find meaning in them. Thus, animated movies have partly been used to deliver important messages across generations in Japan, and now different artists are also creating artworks for children based on their experiences of WW2.

In this context, animated films can be used to create a dialogue on gender issues between students and teachers at the school level. For example, In This Corner of the World (2016), a crowdfunded Japanese animated film that successfully attracted young people in Japan and won numerous awards globally, depicted a girl’s daily experience in Hiroshima in the midst of WW2. What makes this film distinct from the previous Japanese war animation films, is that it pays greater attention to the lived experiences of those trying to find normalcy amidst the changing social upheaval. This story is based on thorough research including interviews with survivors, to cultivate the audience’s imagination. It would be useful for students not only to understand what ordinary people experienced around the time of the war, but also to further discuss gender issues found in the story and the kinds of legacy that continues to exist today. Using these art forms, teachers can encourage students to discuss; what are the historical roots of gender inequality in Japan, who benefits from it, and what power relations and discourses (in the media, textbooks etc.) contribute to construct the gender inequality at family, school, community and national level. Students can then discuss what types of participation are possible and meaningful, and how they can act to bring a positive change in the society they live in.

As such, using local arts in education may be able to help students and teachers practice a learner-centred approach and critical peace education to deal with gender issues in their communities. It helps to highlight the need to explore different ways of apprehending the past, and the importance of recognising the ways to create an alternative dialogue. In this way, more young people can be empowered to act to go beyond limiting concepts of development that are often measured by economic terms, and to promote human development through which people can fulfil their rights to pursue what they value, regardless of who they are.


Cultural Artist Network

Ubwuzu enabled the creation of a Cultural Artist Network and Youth Advisory Board to inform the design, delivery and implementation of MAP.

Our Supporters


MAP is made possible thanks to the support and funding of the following partners

The Role of Arts in Education for Peacebuilding and Learner-Centred Approach in Rwanda

The Role of Arts in Education for Peacebuilding and Learner-Centred Approach in Rwanda

By Anna Hata

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) and Learner-Centred Approach in Rwanda

‘MAP motivates and makes us free’ and helps to ‘resolve conflicts in our community,’ a youth member of Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) announced proudly in his speech at the 3-day conference hosted by MAP and Changing the Story. Hosted in cooperation with the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in Rwanda, this conference welcomed online participants from different countries worldwide from 5-7 August 2020.

Credit: Never Again Rwanda

MAP is a project led by Professor Ananda Breed from the University of Lincoln in collaboration with Dr. Eric Ndushabandi from IRDP in Rwanda. MAP works with young people, using the arts to share their experiences and voice their ideas for peacebuilding and dealing with conflicts in their communities. MAP has been introduced in all five of Rwanda’s provinces, serving over 25 schools, 300 teachers/trainers, and 2,500 young people. The Rwanda Education Board (REB) has also integrated the MAP method into the national curriculum framework in Music, Dance and Drama

The learner-centered approach in education facilitated by the MAP matters for peacebuilding in Rwanda. In April 1994, the genocide against the Tutsi occurred in Rwanda, resulting in over 1,000,000 lives lost within about 100 days. This atrocity adversely affected Rwandan society, with schools destroyed, children and teachers killed, and many children and their families traumatised by witnessing unspeakable levels of violence. Historically speaking, education in Rwanda arguably emphasised the conceptualisation of enemies and allies as well as social stigmatisation along ethnic lines, through the structure of schooling and contents of schooling such as curriculum and pedagogy

For example, schools were used to reinforce the ethnic divisions in the Belgian colonisation period (1919-1962). Schools were established and run under the indirect control of the Belgian colonial authority that favoured the incumbent Tutsi elite. Different ethnic identities experienced extremely limited access to basic education, and most primary and secondary school students were Tutsi, although they were estimated to have made up 10-15% of the population at that time. Moreover, history education consisted mostly of a Euro-centric Rwandan history, using a narrative such as, Tutsi were a superior race that came centuries ago from Ethiopia and dominated the Hutu. The situation changed dramatically in the Hutu-dominated government after Rwanda achieved independence in 1962. Education often played a harmful role in generating hatred between the Hutu and the Tutsi, and teachers in history classes used an opposite narrative to reinforce divisions. These classes included stating that the Tutsi colonised Rwanda. As such, education became a perpetrator, planting the seeds of genocide. 

Currently, Rwanda is in a post-conflict phase focusing on a Rwandan identity to promote national unity and citizens free of prejudices and committed to human rights. In addition, all references to ethnic identities have been prohibited in public in favour of an emphasis on a shared Rwandan identity. In this context, learner-centered education approaches are critical for young people to engage in dialogue for peacebuilding.  

How can MAP help to practice learner-centred approach?

Different art forms, such as sharing stories, performance and dance, are important to create a space for students to freely express their ideas and communicate with others to deal with their communities’ issues. By using these methods, MAP helps students build self-confidence in talking about themselves, not only for themselves but also to help others express their own stories. As Dr. Eric from IRDP argues, the key is ‘not only sharing your stories, but also listening to stories of others and mixing them to progress together’. By doing so, MAP would encourage to co-build psychosocial support. Students can learn to share stories as a way to discuss the problems they face, such as discrimination and corruption. MAP can promote peace through the arts, such as performances that students put on. For example, students perform a play on issues with regards to discriminatory practices against students with disabilities at school, family and community levels. It creates a space for students and the audience (teachers, communities, policymakers) to discuss the issue and how to make a better environment. 

Professor Breed also emphasises the various benefits of MAP. Students can gain a lot of knowledge from each other and acquire crucial skills such as active listening, empathy, critical thinking, and public speaking skills, including those who did not previously have confidence. In this way, students can discover their talents. During the conference, youth members involved with MAP explained four important aspects of MAP from a student’s perspective: 1) to encourage students to be confident in themselves, 2) to strengthen ‘friendship’ between students and teachers, because when teachers start to listen, it strengthens the student-teacher relationship, 3) to make students perform better academically, as students can ask questions to teachers easily and comfortably, 4) to give students more opportunities to participate in dialogues which concern them. MAP encourages students to discover by themselves, instead of receiving everything from teachers. This active participation can give students a sense of ownership to navigate the peacebuilding process within their communities. 

Similarly, MAP can bring benefits for teachers. MAP Master Trainers who have been training other teachers explained the effects brought on by MAP: 1) to bring peace on the ground by enabling students to use art, dance and other art forms to solve conflicts in their communities, 2) to make teachers confident in practicing peacebuilding, by discovering different ways to engage with students and gaining the skills to use arts, games and other methods in teaching 3) to facilitate community dialogue to bring community members together and discuss sensitive topics, particularly related to the past and build intergenerational conversations. Teachers become peacebuilders in their communities by critically thinking about different issues to solve them, and building trust in their everyday lives, both in school and society.  

MAP highlights the importance of intergenerational dialogue which brings together teachers and students to create the foundations to affect a more just society. Through the MAP, teachers and students can learn how dialogues can relieve participants, encouraging them to share stories and find solutions. The MAP approach is adaptable to different local contexts. MAP is also being introduced in other post-conflict nations including Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia and Nepal. By using local arts, MAP’s approach can be applied to different societies to work with young people and use art to promote sustainable peace. 

For further reflections on the  ‘Arts-based Research for Education and Peacebuilding’ conference (hosted from 5–7 August see Beyond voice: expressing youth agency through arts-based approaches in Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP).

MAP in Nepal – Report from Scoping Visit (2020)

MAP in Nepal – Report from Scoping Visit (2020)

In Nepal, MAP Network Plus conducted a series of internal scoping visits between 25 March – 30 August 2020.

The scoping visits’ activities included consultations with representatives of local government, teachers and school management, arts-led organizations and psychosocial organizations.

These scoping visits involved mapping key local partners and schools, briefing research participants, establishing connections with partner schools, child clubs and youth clubs, and conducting six cultural artists workshops.

Scoping visit methods included semi-structured interviews, observation, interactions and reflection based story-telling. In total, the MAP Nepal team interacted with 4 local government officials, 22 school leaders, 6 child club leaders, 17 local artists, and 9 researchers and 16 other stakeholders. In the process of scoping visits, the scoping team introduced participants to observation and reflection based story-telling.

© Human Rights Film Festival and Tribhuvan University, 2020.


Nepal MAP

Report from Scoping Visit