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Social workers & youth impact communities by raising awareness of domestic violence

The Common Hope social work department recently partnered with the youth program to give theatrical presentations about domestic violence, in all its forms – physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, and economic – in the community of Ciudad Vieja. Domingo Tzorín and Romelia Porón, social workers at Common Hope, understand that domestic violence is prevalent in many families. They wanted to do a workshop to raise awareness of this issue, “but we wanted it to be more dynamic and not just a regular workshop,” said Domingo. So, the social workers approached the Youth Program and asked if they would be interested in creating short plays about domestic violence and later present them to parents in the community.

A group of 15 youth met to discuss and reflect on the issue of domestic violence, and how they would present the different forms of violence that exist in the family through short dramatic presentations. They created three pieces that depicted physical, economic and psychological violence and met to rehearse and make their costumes for the performance. Domingo and Romelia had invited families from the community to come to the event to watch the short plays and participate in a discussion. They worked with the mayor’s office of Ciudad Vieja do be able to use the Municipal Auditorium for the event; they also wanted the youth to have a real experience of performing on stage. After each play was presented, Domingo and Romelia led a discussion on what had been shown on stage. After watching all three performances, they invited people to share their personal reflections and experiences. Domingo said that “the activity served as a type of group therapy session because the parents were able to externalize their lived experiences because they identified with the stories in the plays.” Romelia shared that “although there is a lot of machismo in Guatemala, some of the fathers participated in the activity. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but step by step we can make a change.”

Katie Dutko, the Youth Leadership Program Facilitator, says “The experience was very positive for the youth because not only did they get the opportunity to reflect on this important social issue, but they also developed the skills and talents that come from performing on stage.” The youth were able to strengthen their public speaking skills, their preparation and organizational skills, memorization skills and overcoming stage fright.

The event was so successful that the families are asking for another event with theatrical presentations. We can’t wait to see what other creative ideas come out of this great partnership between the social work department and the youth program.

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