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Girls excel with Spoken Word

Published: 
Saturday, April 28, 2018

“I think Girl Be Heard says it all.

It gives voice to young women, to girls that are just starting to come into their own.”

Canadian High Commissioner Carla Hogans Rufeld made the statement at Unplugged, the midyear show of the Girl Be Heard T&T programme held on April 20 at the Little Carib Theatre.

The programme, which develops, amplifies, and celebrates the voices of young women through socially conscious theatre-making, was carried out at Bishops Centenary High School in Port-of-Spain.

Lead Teaching Artist and programme manager Deneka Thomas said the cohort of nine girls was younger than the previous year’s group, comprising mainly 1st and 2nd form students.

There was a wealth of talent on display as the girls (Destiny Collins, Taria Augustine, Gabrielle Forde, D’Nerra Huggins, Jamilya Bunting, Merelyn Alexander, Arielle Bernard and Jada-Marie Ramdass) performed spoken word poetry on topics that included safety, human trafficking, fear, beauty, rape, femininity, trust, bullying, body issues and a need for external validation. The pieces included Safe Is, Woman, Imaginary Place, Human Trafficking, Can I Trust You?, My Body and the Way It Should Be.

There were also guest performances from alumnus Debra Daniel, who performed Being a Girl is Risky Business, teaching artists Arielle John with Ceremonies of Naming and Deneka Thomas with Say Yes and guest performer Deja Lewis who performed In Case of An Emergency and Born to Bend This Way.

The girls said that being in the programme is a life-changing experience for them. Some said they gained confidence in being able to talk to large crowds, while others said they were able to share their secrets with the group in a space where they felt accepted and loved. A unanimous sentiment was that the group became a second family for the participants, where the girls felt they were needed and appreciated.

Girl Be Heard US cofounder Jessica Greer Morris congratulated the girls and reminded them they were all loved by everyone who worked with them. “You’re the reason we come to work.”

She also said she was grateful to be able to collaborate with NGO partner the Two Cents Movement to work together with the girls, instead of fighting for resources as so many NGOs do.

Two Cents Movement managing director Jean-Claude Cournand said the programme touched everyone it came in contact with and led him to make major changes in his organisation in terms of gender equity and participation.

Hogan Rufeld said the programme gives the girls a voice, inspiration, confidence and helps to build community and maturity.

“It’s exactly what the doctor ordered these days. It gives them a voice, space to say what they want to say and a way to say it. Being able to do that and bring out what’s deep inside isn’t easy, so the spoken word genre is a way that releases those unspoken words.”

Many of the former participants of the programme were also in attendance, including Tishauna Jones and Kimelly Fiddler, who gave a fine comedic turn as they emceed the proceedings.

Alumnus Hannah Parris, whom Greer Morris credits with the decision for GBH US to come to Bishops Centenary, said she keeps coming back because it’s like a home away from home.

“When I was lost and I had no one to speak to because my family was busy, I found myself this programme. I saw it as an opportunity for me to just let my voice be heard by someone who wants it to be heard, because when I was not being heard at home, they actually wanted to hear my problems and my issues.

“I am just proud that it has more girls coming in and they are experiencing what I experienced as well with Girl Be Heard.”

More info

For information on how to sponsor
a girl or programme, contact
344-2036, 301-9033 and find Girl
Be Heard Trinidad and Tobago on
Facebook.

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