Project Bloodline

The Problem

Malaria is the leading cause of the child mortality crisis in Africa. According to the Center for Disease Control, this preventable and treatable disease is still endemic in 106 nations, killing more than one million people per year. Ninety percent of Malaria related deaths are suffered by Sub-Saharan African children under the age of five. In this region, it is estimated that one child dies every 30 seconds from malaria related illness. The area of our project focus is Mali, West Africa. Listed as one of the poorest nations in the world (CIA fact book), the economic hardships Malaria cuases for Malian families and communities is profound. The high cost of mosquito nets and anti-malarial medication is prohibitively expensive for most families. Loss of productivity through malaria related illness, hospitalizations and death saps already burdened families of important resources and income. With Malaria contributing to Mali's infant and maternal mortality rate--which stands among the highest in the world--the disease also takes a signifigant emotional toll. After years of medical research and billions of dollars spent attempting to develop a vaccine, none exist. Prevention and education are crucial elements in helping to end this cycle of disease, poverty, and death.

Plan of Action

New Works/World Traditions is a dance company whose members share a strong passion for public service and global harmony. We create new works mixing Mande traditions with contemporary motifs and ideas. Our work is intended to provide opportunities for open discussion on matters of local, national, and international news, negotiating civil and political disputes, organizing community based projects, and for teaching moral and spiritual lessons. The gatherings that we form at performances and workshops utilize interactive and participatory theatrical methods of call and response music, dance and satiric skits to display a particular point of view that supports an egalitarian exchange of ideas and solutions. Because of our methods we have been invited by the Minister of Culture of Mali to perform our most current work, “Bloodline”, which takes an in-depth look at malaria and at how our often self-destructive relationship to the environment, both in Mali and the around the world, contributes to collective despair brought on by disease. This invitation would afford us the opportunity to collaborate with Malian artists and activists and begin an ongoing relationship with the communities there in hopes of providing educational prevention. We have reached out to American students of all ages from preschool to college, as well as families and individuals who want to learn about performance art as a means of education. One of the most effective tools used for education in Mali is folksong, proverb and theatrical performance. These “edu-tainment” gatherings give the dancers and the audience an opportunity to create personal identity with each issue, give immediate feedback, and encourage high levels of creativity in problem solving and community-based decision-making practices.

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