"The greatest natural resource that we have on the planet are the minds and hearts of our children." Sarina Condello
In summer of 2003 Sarina Condello was invited to Ghana by her master drum and dance teacher Kwasi Dunyo. For two months daily she worked hard at her dance and drum lessons in the hot sun only to retire to the shade of a big Baobob tree and to a small gathering of smiling and giggling children. To connect to the children she began a small chase game called it MONSTER. By the end of her stay five children turned to fifteen which then grew to fifty. At the end of each day the children would chant " Play Monster with me please!" It was that moment The Big Little Caravan was born.
Wanting to give back to the continent that had given her so much as an artist she designed and planned a performing arts camp for the next two years for the children of Africa. In 2006 her first camp took place at the Olive Branch Orphanage in Mbeya,Tanzania with her three teens in tow. Documenting her journey she produced and created her first independent film Thank You Tanzania. And so began her vision for the future.
Birds Fly. Fish Swim. Children Play
Sarina sees all children as unique beings. Dance, drama, visual arts and music are at the forefront of her camp's experience. Her materials and curriculum engage the children's feelings and imagination in order to motivate spontaneity and creativity. The performing arts promotes learning by doing and sharing. As a result of this all children who participate are left feeling important, empowered and an integral part of the community and camp's spirit.
It is through the exploration of the arts that the dynamics of play initiates motivation, self expression, personal and environmental connections and integrated experiences. Traveling throughout the countries in Africa and Native Reserves in Canada, The Big Little Caravan intends to create a cultural cohesion in performance and celebration with performing artists and children.
The mandate of The Big Little Caravan of Joy is to connect underprivileged children and artists and families from Canada through the natural language of play, performance and creativity. The summer camps will act as a springboard for children orphaned or affected by illness to explore, experiment and acquire new information about the world and themselves. It is through the exploration of the arts that the dynamics of play will initiate: motivation, self-expression, personal and environmental connections and integrated experiences. Creativity is the most elemental aspect of our human nature. Active creativity in these camps will help to heal, integrate and expand each child's human potential.
- develop, support, encourage and expand the capacity for personal transformation for all children and volunteers involved with the camp
- empower individuals, artists and families through the act of giving while creating new ways of understanding and meaning in working together as a global community
- act as a model to create a sustainable program with volunteers world wide
- act as creative exchange for visiting artists from around the world to come together to create, integrate and learn from one another
The camp runs for six to ten days, very much like a traditional arts camp, with an intention to create a final performance or celebration on the last day. Visiting artists, volunteers and a team of performers from the hosting country hook up with the caravan in each location to facilitate the camp. Five to fifteen African artists from each country are employed and provided with accommodations, meals, etc. for the duration of each camp.
Visual Arts - Memories are captured forever and live on in The Sweet Little Paintings and craft creations, arts project that the children from each country will contribute in the making of; essentially painting their creative spirits together to create a lasting bond that will inspire them and others for years to come. Collage, finger and foot painting, arts 'n crafts and puppet making are also included.
(Circus, Drama, Martial Arts and Dance) - Children delight in the discovery of new and exciting skills that take them beyond their boundaries as they journey into the world of circus. Dancing, juggling, clowning games and other fun activities will complete their days with wonder.
Musical numbers from both continents are taught and performed by the children and artists at the final performance.
Some of the activities that the children experience during their time at the camp include: painting, outdoor sculptures, costume and set making, story telling, circus training, games, races, theatre games, putting on a show for the community and much more!
In the first two days all staff – (including guest teachers, African performers and educators) workshop together in order to prepare for the events that will occur during the camp.The next twelve days, with two days off, the camp runs like a traditional arts camp with an intention to create a new body of work that is performed for the community when the camp commences. The final few days are dedicated to preparation and rehearsing for the final celebration and show. An original children's story that evolves around a selected theme acts as a spring board for the performance. Ten character groupings (which will handle up to 5 - 20 young performers) are part of the story. These grouping or pods also act as camp teams as the children go through their day traveling from one art specialists to another. Ten councilors and ten specialists comprise of the Creative Arts Camp Faculty.
Art making, creativity and play is an inherent faculty of all human beings, especially children. The Big Little Caravan of Joy provides learning on many levels: the sensory, kinesthetic, conceptual, creative and mythical. With children that have been in a traumatic experience this camp provides healing opportunities for these children to explore truth, beauty and spontaneity through creative play and the performing and circus arts, in the context of sharing and building new relationships with one another.
Sarina Condello, artistic director and a selected group performers and/or artists will join with a cultural group of the hosting country in order to create a participatory theatrical and creative event for the children involved. The camps are developed through the children's personal and regional expression and embody the spirit and magic unique to them. The performing arts themselves are used as an encompassing learning ground emerging from the creativity of the children at the orphanage or hosting village.
All activities are developed to enhance and nurture the participants' awareness of self, others, and the world that they live in through playful, dramatic and artistic expression. The long term benefits are: collaboration of skills, a sense of presence, empathy, expression of creative ideas and the building of knowledge and skills through the creative interaction with others.
Sustainability by Educating Educators
Friends of Noah Canada: http://www.noahorphans.ca/
Noah, South Africa
People's Educational Theatre, Swaziland
Ministry of Arts and Culture, Swaziland
Ministry of Education, Zimbabwe
Ministry of Sports, Arts, Culture, Zimbabwe