19.04.2018 - VSA’s first hip-hop assignment is on a roll – trainer and choreographer Josh Mitikulena, who’s been working with Wan Smolbag in Vanuatu, has renewed his assignment to continue the work he started in 2017.

Wan Smolbag is a grassroots NGO based in Port Vila, Vanuatu that started with a group of six volunteer actors in 1989 and now employs over 100 staff and over 200 volunteers. They use theatre and dance to educate the public, particularly young people, about sexual health, the environment and other issues – blending traditional story-telling with modern methods.

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Josh with VSA Vanuatu Programme Officer Brigitte Olul.

Taking part in activities like sport and dance has a huge role to play in growing resilient communities. It not only contributes to health and well-being, but in societies where women and girls are marginalised, joining a group is empowering, helping to build confidence and community.

One of Josh’s aims for his first assignment was to involve more girls in hip-hop, so he began taking girls-only classes, which made them more likely to attend. He says “I also created a girls dance crew that entered one of the biggest dance events in Vanuatu called Battle of the Year… By the end of the year I had small workshops where some of the more experienced girls taught the other younger girls.”

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Josh’s new assignment will focus on continuing to upskill the experienced dancers to become trainers, and to look for ways to use performances to provide an income for the dancers.

Wan Smolbag’s project manager, Jodi Devine, says “Josh has been a fantastic member of the WSB team, all the kids love coming to his classes and the staff really enjoy working with and learning from him.”

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