Community Story Shops

Stories Reveal Needs

In Nov/Dec 2009 Dorian worked alongside Dr Laura Campbell of the HSRC and Robs (Bereavement NGO) in Pietermaritzburg facilitating a needs analysis through stories, creative play and prompts for caregivers, nurses and mothers who care for children who are dying.

The Storywell Programme

During 2008 Dorian co-ordinated a UNICEF project – training rural caregivers in story-telling and story-listening as part of their psycho-social skills development. These caregivers in turn touched the lives of children affected by HIV/AIDS. The programme involved workshops, field visits and mentoring. Storywell used creative and imaginative activities that prompted stories… e.g. making masks, binding objects from nature to create ‘characters’, playing with clay, drawing or painting on a paper plate, cutting out collages, collecting waste to make musical instruments. The Storywell team worked with Simunye (Mpumulanga) and ChrisTanna (Northern Cape).

Namibian Storyshop

Namibian Storyshop

Why Storywell?

Everyone has a well of stories to draw from we can all story well – i.e. tell stories to engages listeners telling and listening to stories helps us to heal and be well.

Storywell Develops:

  • Listening skills through various creative activities.
  • Skills of narration and communication.
  • Questioning skills to help the storyteller become clearer.
  • An understanding of story forms – archetypes in story, story structure.
  • Rituals to celebrate, to honour, to grieve, to affirm.

Stories that instruct, renew, and heal provide a vital nourishment to the psyche that cannot be obtained any other way. Stories reveal over and over again the precious and peculiar knack that humans have for triumph over travail. They provide all the vital instructions to live a useful, necessary and unbounded life – a life of meaning, a life worth remembering (Clarissa Pinkola Estes).

Caregiver Responses to the Storywell Programme 2008:

  • I have learned that stories are powerful. You can hide the positive in your heart and take it out when you are scared or broken-hearted. Stories give you a way of talking about your problems.
  • Children who have been through a story telling programme are better able to verbalise and are more positive.
  • I learned to listen and that stories can heal me.
  • It created a self-image for me. Before the course I thought nothing of myself. Now I can talk to anyone – I can do what I dream of.
  • Stories made me feel hope again and helped me to see I can also do something with my life. I can mean a lot to my community.
  • I was empty. My soul was ill, I didn’t want to forgive. Now I feel full and healthy.

Fellow Storywellers are Elma Pollard, Philiipa Kabali-KLagwa, and Toto Gzxabela. The Storywell programme can be adapted to 1001 situations.