ROOTS Foundation has developed a youth intervention platform, powered by the oral traditions, that strives to reach out to troubled young persons.
Abyssinia: A Journey of Change
Abyssinia is a production of the lived experiences and social realities of a Muslim and a Christian as they share their journey of failure, crime, drugs, illusions of fame and grandeur, death and prison through this transformational and inspirational message of change.
Targeting youth involved in gangs and groups associated with violent extremism, as well as those susceptible to said violence, Abyssinia promotes a safe space for self-learning, self-expression and self-discovery, moulding their pure talent and by extension, their outlook on life, family and community. The programme also ventures out to the country’s high schools, promoting school safety and positive habits for personal and academic growth.
This approach of using the lived experience and social realities of persons who were formerly involved in a life of crime and violence to bring the stark reality to young persons of the consequences of their choices and actions is hoped to assist in transforming attitudes towards more positive and rewarding life outcomes.
This project was born out of a desire to bring peace amongst youth enthralled in street gang violence and those susceptible to violent attacks – in and out of school. The facilitators continue to inspire and motivate young persons into walking the straight and narrow path towards success. In presenting the real life outcomes of death, jail, pain and sorrow, lost opportunities and a life unfulfilled to those most vulnerable, it is hoped that reflection and introspection can take place to foster an opportunity for change.
The angry young man we have always blamed for crime in this Jurisdiction is becoming angrier, younger, more destructive, combative, amative, acquisitive and secretive (Husbands, 2007). These attributes depict what Kaufman (1999), describes as “a method learned by boys and men on how to selectively use violence to redirect a range of emotions into rage, which takes the form of self-directed violence or self-destructive behaviours”.
The man child is in crisis; “and we cannot and must not trivialize the sanctity of human life…unless there is genuine intervention.” (President Carmona, 2013)
Girls are also facing similar issues as their male counterparts. However, in recent years we have ‘seen’ on mainstream and social media and ‘heard’ in the schools and on the streets our young girls engaged in numerous violent attacks and abusive outbursts against their peers, adults and law-enforcement officers. If one is to gauge the myriad of violent clashes involving girls and women as broadcasted on the media, it would also appear that the female child is in crisis.
Abyssinia – a Journey of Change provides social cues and social expectations, also incorporating rap/hip-hop and spoken word poetry. ROOTS Foundation’s subsequent success in engaging vulnerable youth in at-risk circumstances and opportunity youth populations may be attributed to the organization’s approach to curriculum development. Its pattern of programme delivery reflects an attempt to bring ‘all the fragments together in the search for sustainable solutions’ (Ryan et al, 2013).
The facilitators of Abyssinia – a Journey of Change, by sharing their lived experiences and social realities, will allow the youth to release the “I Don’t Care” attitude and display the hidden message of “PLEASE! Don’t Give up on Me!”. We at the ROOTS Foundation would not only be there to listen to their cry for help, but we would be there to help them navigate this difficult and crucial period in their development.
A therapeutic and participative – interactive approach is the mode of delivery used to facilitate this intervention. This includes the facilitators sharing their varied life experiences. Consistent with a healing and an empowerment approach, these methods afford participants greater opportunities to reflect, to cope, and to commit to behaviour changes beneficial to themselves and to their communities. The Facilitators create a non-judgmental, confidential environment during the process of this intervention as a means of fostering trust, and deepening the learning and copying process.
Photo Gallery: Abyssinia Season One
Photo Gallery: Abyssinia Season Two