In front of the Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ), two parents prevent their child from going to school.
While the child is consumed in tears, a human rights activist intervenes and tells the parents that the child has a right to be educated and that children are supposed to be protected everywhere, starting in their homes.
But the situation is hypothetical and the people are actors:student performers from the jhr student chapter at MIJ. Formed in 2010, it is one of jhr’s first African student chapters.
On February 19th they hosted a talent show on campus to raise money for the chapter’s secondary school outreach programs and to educate their fellow students on human rights.
“It reached out to the people of MIJ,” says Sahiba Kour, the chapter’s president. “Now they know who we are and that we are working on human rights on campus. They came and supported that work, which meant a lot to us.”
The talent show attracted students from outside MIJ and attracted media attention, including that of the national newspaper The Daily Times. Various media outlets supported the event by providing judges and local businesses donated prizes.
Students displayed their dancing, singing, and rapping skills, with popular student rapper Red Eye winning first prize.
But human rights did not sit backstage. In addition to the play on children’s rights, students recited human rights-related poetry, and used a creative method to get their fellow students thinking about gender sensitivity. Males from the audience were called on stage and dressed up as women, while women from the audience cat-called them.
“We wanted to insult them the way some men insult ladies on the road or their homes. We wanted them to understand how we feel so they can reform themselves,” says Kour.
Now that the event is over, jhr chapter members are looking forward to starting their outreach projects.
According to Chance Mfune, the chapter’s vice-president of promotions, “We want to introduce human rights clubs in secondary schools so that students can start knowing about human rights at a tender age. We want them to know they have rights that should be promoted at all times.”