Kairos Coalition Workspace

Building humane communities one partnership at a time...

In Hanoi, the Kairos Coalition has partnered with IOGT-VN, a domestic youth development NGO, to pilot a Humane Edutainment program aimed at fostering the development of a cadre of youth grassroots animal activists. IOGT-VN has ten years of experience in developing the leadership potential of Vietnamese youth, but had never before been involved in animal protection issues; however, they were intrigued by the Humane Edutainment concept and have quickly become its most enthusiastic proponents. Humane Edutainment uses participatory theatre as a vehicle for exploring the question “What does it mean to be humane?” within the normative social and cultural milieu. Since undertaking the Humane Edutainment pilot as the lead implementing partner, many of IOGT-VN’s formerly “animal rights-agnostics” have been transformed into passionate advocates for the animals.

On November 1, 2010, three Kairos Coalition trainers flew to Hanoi, Vietnam to commence a nine-month Humane Edutainment pilot project in partnership with IOGT-VN. A six-day Humane Edutainment Practitioner Workshop conducted in Hanoi provided participants the skills needed to plan and implement Humane Edutainment events at schools and universities throughout the Hanoi Municipal Region. This workshop provided training in Forum Theatre/Sociodrama techniques, as well as in various other humane education exercises designed to stimulate critical thinking, perspective taking, conflict resolution and divergent problem solving skills. Representatives from the World Society for the Protections of Animals (WSPA), Live & Learn International, Animals Asia Foundation, Education Nature Vietnam and VietPet.com also provided presentations to enhance participant awareness of animal-related issues in Vietnam.

Nearly forty Vietnamese attended the November workshop, which culminated in a mock Humane Edutainment performance event featuring animal issue vignettes created by the participants themselves. Performance vignettes serve as the core of the Humane Edutainment approach, which challenges audience members to become part of the dramatic action with an eye towards proposing humane solutions in order to solve realistic ethical dilemmas. This kind of experiential learning serves as practice for real life and reinforces the behavior-attitude formative process through vicarious modeling and the development of self-efficacy. Through the process of examining and evaluating various potential solutions to complex problems each of us is likely to eventually face, participants become better prepared to act decisively, ethically and compassionately when faced with similar dilemmas in real life.

On November 16, graduates of the workshop presented a Humane Edutainment performance for thirty students at the Hanoi University of Agriculture, which includes the College of Veterinary Medicine. Several veterinary students from the Hanoi University of Agriculture who had participated in the Humane Edutainment Practitioner Training workshop took the lead for setting up and running this performance. They wrote and performed new vignettes dealing with the trapping of exotic wildlife and the care of sick water buffalo, challenging their classmates to devise more compassionate and humane ways to overcome cruel practices.

Beginning in December 2010, the IOGT-VN’s Humane Edutainment MTT began visiting schools in the Hanoi region, including Nguyen Tat Thanh High School, the Amsterdam High School and Truong Vuong High School. Humane Edutainment is also being conducted at IOGT-VN’s own leadership training facility outside of Hanoi. These activities include volunteer development and script, performance and problem-solving competitions among youth volunteers and audience members. We will also soon be launching a humane education-themed Propaganda Poster contest throughout Hanoi.

The Humane Edutainment program is designed not just to increase awareness and the active practice of compassion among our audience members and MTT volunteers, but also aims to provide teachers a firm foundation in the Humane Edutainment methodology. Teachers from various primary and secondary schools, as well as students enrolled in the Hanoi Pedagogical University, have been invited to participate in teacher training workshops. The IOGT-VN MTT has also begun to provide Humane Edutainment train-the-trainer workshops to Theatrical Clubs at several primary schools throughout Hanoi.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the Kairos Coalition has recently partnered with a group of volunteer animal rescuers who call themselves “Yêu Động Vật” (www.yeudongvat.com or “Animal Lovers”. This group has an impressive track record of rescuing dogs and cats off the streets and then nursing them back to health, socializing them and ultimately finding them loving homes. Recently, Kairos Coalition collaborated with YDV to equip two rescued Vietnamese cats with American-made wheelchairs and efforts are currently underway to engineer locally-manufactured variants to support disabled members of Vietnam’s growing companion animal population.

We are also collaborating with YDV to create a “transitional home” for rescued dogs and cats, essentially an embryonic “shelter” operation that is intended to serve as a training program and which we hope will ultimately lead to the establishment of Vietnam’s first rescue and shelter operation, which would likely be modeled after Soi Dog Phuket and SCAD Bangkok. In early April, a group of YDG leaders will be travelling to Bangkok on a fact-finding visit to SCAD Bangkok in order to begin laying the groundwork for this groundbreaking effort. There is no doubt that the road ahead for this project is both steep and littered with obstacles, but YDG’s dedicated members may just be able to pull it off!

Although there are a few domestic and international organizations doing great work in Vietnam to protect the environment and conserve wildlife, there has not yet much effort towards improving the lot of companion and domestic farm animals. Our humane education and capacity-building efforts, modest as they may seem, are ultimately intended to foster a cadre of young people with the confidence, passion, skills and vision to take on a decisive role as Vietnam’s first generation of grassroots animal advocates. Everything that follows will be in their hands.

Last updated by Robert Lucius Dec 14, 2011.

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