Zambia's Barefeet enriches the lives of street kids with theatre

Art, theatre, and music at Barefeet give Zambia's street kids a chance to explore their creativity in a safe environment.

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Barefeet Theatre provides a creative space for Zambia's street children.
Barefeet Theatre provides a creative space for Zambia's street children.

Barefeet Theatre is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works to empower Zambia's street children through art, performance, creative writing, and music. “Through theatre, performance, psychosocial support, creativity, and self-expression Barefeet works to address the needs of the children we work with,” reads the NGO’s website.

According to SOS Children’s Villages, 30 per cent of Zambia’s children under the age of 15 are orphans. These children live under uncertain circumstances and they often end up of the street. As a means to reach out to children left on the street, a group of former street kids founded Barefeet Theatre.

The program, established in 2006, began with small workshops for street children. The initiative has since grown to include over 30 members in five Zambian cities: Lusaka, Kitwe, Ndola, Kabwe and Livingstone. All its programs, affectionately dubbed “toes”, are geared towards self-expression.

“It is about hope, aspiration and reaching for more. Barefeet is about innovation and collaboration. It is about the staff, volunteers and supporters who have been part of our birth, growth and evolution. It is about walking together to create a movement that can help shift the world one step at a time,” reads the organisation’s website.

To exhibit the talents nurtured by the organisation, Barefeet hosts an annual youth arts festival at various locations in Lusaka.

“It is a two week event characterized by music, art, theatre, dance and film inclusive of interactive workshops and debates which culminates into a carnival that affirms the spectacle and brilliance that is representative of Barefeet,” Adam McGuigan, co-founder at Barefeet was quoted as saying.

“The festival also offers young people an opportunity to interact with local, national and international artists.”

Barefeet has since partnered with UNICEF and Irish Aid to continue its work.