Puppet shows raise awareness in diverse communities
Plan is using puppet shows to raise awareness on important issues, such as hygiene, sanitation, and child protection.
One of the challenges working in Bokeo province, northern Laos, is its ethnic diversity. There are 15 ethnic groups with 44 subgroups, and each group has its own language. Many women and children do not speak the official language, Lao, and adult literacy in the area is low.
In order to deliver important messages effectively, Plan performs puppet shows and drama in different ethnic languages. The puppet shows are performed in the evenings when all the members of the families have free time. The children play games and sing songs in the beginning, and the drama and puppet shows follow.
More than 100 people participate in each show, which cover topics like water and sanitation, hand washing and food preservation, education and child protection.
Performers of the show
The main performers of the puppet shows are representatives from the local government, women's organizations, youth groups, and Plan staff. Plan provides each performer with training, while the stories, puppets, and stage decorations are all created by the performers themselves.
“I have played different characters, from a grandmother to a small child whose parents do not allow her to go to school. I am very happy to see the children joining the activities and enjoying the performance,” said Vongdeung Ounkeo, a government official from the Paktha district education and sports department, who performs in the show.
Understanding the issues
At the end of the shows, the performers have a question and answer session with the participants to check their messages were understood.
“Before Plan started working in this district, we used presentations to raise awareness among the village people, but this was not effective,” said Vongdeung. “The puppet shows are a great way of raising awareness because the people can understand the messages easily and remember them well.”
Plan performed puppet shows and drama in 22 villages in 2010, and aims to reach more remote areas of Laos in 2011.
Learn more about Plan's work in Laos.