Welcome (back) to our blog

Many of you who followed last year’s adventure will know that Val and I volunteered to live and work in a secondary school in Johannesburg, writing a daily blog. We recorded our life there, thoughts on aspects of South Africa, and most particularly the progress of the project we were undertaking: a theatre production based upon African folk tales, Kwasuka Sukela (“Once upon a time” in Zulu.)  That blog and other pages are still up and available via the Kwasuka Sukela menu, but, excitingly, we are about to set off on another adventure, and hope to record our experiences in much the same way.

Looking for another theatre and travel opportunity, our good friend Sue – who has both knowledge and experience of the voluntary sector – put us in touch with Jusoor International, an organisation which works with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.  We were slightly nervous when the initial application form mentioned opportunities for young adults to volunteer – we have many qualities, but youth is not among them – but elsewhere the indication was that what we had to offer was suitable.  So we applied, and were accepted, so we fly to Beirut on July 15th, to spend five weeks in Lebanon.

Once again, the intention is to work towards a theatre production based upon traditional folk tales, but this time around expect there to be different challenges: the time-scale is shorter, the children are younger than those we worked with in South Africa, and most importantly there will be language issues (our understanding is that few if any of the children will speak English). As a result, I have kept the scripts simple and with greater reliance upon a narrator.

The four stories I chose all came from the same collection of Syrian folk tales. The Beggar Queen has a familiar theme: a young king falling in love with a kind and beautiful beggar girl. The Story of Luck and Fate tells of a man who places too much trust in the words of fortune tellers, so misses out on the opportunities that spread themselves before him. The Tale of the Spilt Molasses tells of a woman whose jealousy of her sister’s good fortune leads to her own fall. Finally, The Peddler’s Daughter tells of a girl whose cleverness persuades a foolish king to change his ways.

There is no title yet for either the project or the production (last year, “Kwasuka Sukela” served for both.) “Once upon a time” in Arabic would seem a good choice, but the Google Translate version does not easily slip off the tongue, and I was wary of choosing a title based on an algorithm.  We will just have to wait until our arrival, and the chance to discuss the matter with some Arabic speakers, before making a decision.


We are currently two weeks away from departure, and plan to start posting our blog from 15 July.  We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy writing it, and feedback is always welcome.  Enjoy!