Drama is a Necessary Art
by Jannick Peters
We are sitting down for tea with George, a refugee from Sudan whose school we’ve just come from, and I can already tell is a hero. Yet even when he was sitting right in front of me this evening, it was difficult to truly understand the things he went through. He spoke about how he had no other choice but to become a soldier at age 12. He slaved away from 1990 to 1997, when he was shot in the leg and then taken to a hospital for 5 months. The most compelling part of his story was when he said that even though he might be hungry in Kenya, at least he knows that tomorrow he will wake up and he can look for food. George explained that when he was a soldier in Sudan, every night when he went to sleep, he didn’t know if he would wake up the next day. This constant paranoia combined with everything else must have been so torturous. It’s hard to believe that the smiling, confident, and ambitious man sitting in front of me is the man in these difficult stories.
When LeJon asked George to pass her the salt, he mentioned how when they had no food in Sudan, they would add a bit of salt to some water and drink it for dinner almost like a broth. As he said this, my view behind him was of a seemingly endless stretch of Lexus after Benz after BMW. There were all these foreigners in fancy clothes strutting around, and George didn’t even want us to pay for his snack.
After both my visits with the JEHO and Sud Academy, a common theme has emerged. Everyone who has gone through hardship has a sincere and powerful desire to help. George has already shown this through the school he is running, even though he has his own struggles. His students, even though they are my age or younger, talk about how they want to create world peace by stopping conflicts, both in Sudan and in the Middle East. They talk about how they wish to become humanitarians, and secure successful jobs so that they may one day give back to the people in need and honor those that have helped them get to where they are. Children from JEHO talk about the same, though their lens is that through education and faith in God, they can be —will be —successful.
Drama certainly has a helped these kids in ways that money simply can’t. Through drama, they are able to connect with their emotions and process all that they have gone through. Drama helps them open up from being the shy and bashful kids they are when we walk into the expressive, emotive, and introspective individuals they are by the end of our short session. In many ways, drama is therapy to these kids. As the week unfolds, I am seeing more and more that it truly is a Necessary Art.