This year DfAD has been inspired to support the efforts of Montserrat Gili who is going to Zambia at the beginning of November to direct a Christmas theatre show for street kids with an organisation called BAREFEET.  Please read her blog below.

YES, The Arts Can Help, by Montserrat Gili 

Zambian Youth - ArtBy the age of 8 most children in the UK have been to see at least one if not more, Christmas shows with their schools or their family. Have you seen how their faces lit up? How they engage with the hero or heroin of the story? How they sing along? How they clap, laugh, shout…? Numerous studies show us how the arts have a positive impact on children’s development so I am not going to bore you with the importance of that because you probably already know it…

As a theatre practitioner I have been leading workshops for many years in many different settings, including work with NEET young people (at risk of exclusion), with young people with autism, etc and I KNOW how participating in the arts can help a young person… to improve their confidence, their empathy, their relationship with themselves and others, their leadership skills, etc, etc, etc…

… but I want to talk to you about a project that is different because as well as all the above, it can also help young children who live in the streets to find other options and eventually find a way out of the streets.

This project will take place in Zambia… where there is a charity organisation called Barefeet that works with children at risk of becoming disengaged from their communities. Barefeet helps children who are living on the streets or at risk of becoming street children to transform their lives. Their Christmas show is a recurring event that brings a bit of magic to the Christmas of street children in Lusaka. Not only do we give them a spectacular show and a present from Santa, we also bring them into contact with different orphanages and former street children. Those former street children are now professional performers at Barefeet and are a shining example of how arts can change your life.

This year I will be going to Zambia at the beginning of November to direct their Christmas show for the street kids. For most of them this will be their first hand experience with live theatre, but they will also have the opportunity to experience workshops with the performers, they will receive a little gift, snacks and more importanly they will be put in touch with organisations that can give them options to leave the streets!

So as I said, a worthy project, but of course, we are still raising funds to help this happen.

Please help us in any way you can, even if you can’t give at the moment, please help us by passing this information and our Just Giving page along to your network of friends, family or colleagues. The more distribution the better, especially since we don’t have that much time to raise the funds.

I know there are many fundraising events going on and many worthy causes to support, so please choose yours carefully and if it’s not this one, don’t worry, I understand. And it’s all right.

Thank you so much in advance!


I have also created a Facebook Group to update our progress, put up photos and tell you about rehearsals and how things are going. That is also an easy way to share with your contacts by simply inviting them to be part of the group (just go to group and press on +add member)

PS. The show will be a Zambian take on the cult movie Labyrith (yeah the David Bowie one) so wish me luck!! Devised, of course.

Montserrat Gili