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Drama from EcoLink

Drama – using people or puppets – can be a good way of encouraging people to talk openly about sensitive issues

1996 Available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Footsteps magazine issues on a wooden desk.

From: Population – Footsteps 27

A discussion about population growth, family planning and other relevant themes

It is very important to encourage people to talk openly about sensitive issues. Drama – using people or puppets – can be a good way of encouraging such discussion. Here is an idea for a drama written by EcoLink in South Africa. You can add your own ideas, adapt the content and change the names to make it relevant for your own community.

EcoLink produce many useful booklets on a number of different subjects. See 'Resources' page.

‘Another Mouth to Feed’

Six women of different ages are sitting together talking. Maria, Anna, Jane and Theresa are older women. Sarah and Lucy are younger women. Maria is making a quilt for her daughter’s new baby.

SARAH Is that for your daughter’s first baby, Maria?

MARIA No – it’s for her third. But it’s a girl again. Her husband says they must go on trying for a boy. He needs a son to carry on his name and for the inheritance.

ANNA It’s a pity that girls can’t inherit. When my friend’s husband died, his mother and brothers just came and took everything. They just left her some pots.

LUCY That’s bad. I think there are some different laws now though. We need to know about them.

ANNA So what will your daughter do, Maria?

MARIA She’s going to the clinic for advice. She’s had these three children very close together and she needs to get strong and well again before thinking of having any more. Besides, she’s also afraid that her husband may lose his job. So many factories are being closed down now.

JANE Some of our men don’t like us to go to the clinics for help. They like us to have lots of children. Some of them think they have to build up a big tribe, like in the old days.

ANNA We needed many children in the old days to help us in the fields and in the homes, but it’s different now.

SARAH My husband wants me to go to the clinic. He’s not old fashioned. He says we can’t afford children yet. He’s had to pay 15 cows for the bride price and doesn’t earn much. He doesn’t want a big family but he’d like a son.

LUCY My husband likes to have a baby in the house all the time. He says a baby makes him smile even when he is feeling sad.

MARIA I agree. Even strangers in the street smile at a baby and greet you nicely. Besides we need more children to look after us in our old age.

THERESA But it’s different now. If we have fewer children, they have a better chance of having a good education, useful skills and well paid jobs. So just a few children will then be able to look after us better than a lot of poor children can.

JANE You’re right. I had a big family but they can’t help me now. Instead I have to help my daughter’s children.

ANNA It cost me a lot to send my daughter to high school, but she has a good job now and helps me a lot. She’s helping to pay for my son’s education too.

MARIA You know something? That lady near me with seven children is having another baby.

LUCY Yes I know her. Her daughter is pregnant as well and she’s only 15.

SARAH Huh! We should talk to them about the clinic.

THERESA No, I tried. The husband won’t listen. He says all those pills and things are just ways of ‘murdering’ us.

LUCY Some of us need better information. My neighbour believes that if you have those injections to prevent pregnancy, you’ll never be able to have a baby afterwards.

ANNA No, that’s not true. I had injections for many years but have had two children since then. They are good, strong children as well.

LUCY Some of us have our babies too close together and never have a chance to get really well before the next one. I think the idea of child spacing is a good one.

THERESA It is true that healthy mothers will have healthy children. But, still, we must be free to decide for ourselves. No one else must come along telling us what to do.

MARIA In the old days, if a young girl got pregnant they used to marry her to an old man as a warning to others.

JANE It was different then. The whole community was responsible for the good behaviour of the young.

MARIA Yes, any member of the community could discipline someone else’s child. Today we have to mind our own business.

JANE Well, it’s very confusing. In the old days we all knew where we stood. We learned everything from the old people. Everything was connected. ‘Home’ wasn’t separate from ‘being educated’. Today the children are only getting half a teaching.

THERESA Yes, education has lost its roots.

ANNA I think we parents should teach our children about these issues. It might bring us closer if we can talk freely.

MARIA We don’t like the modern ways but we can’t do much except prepare our children well. We must teach them about the dangers and give them a good moral and spiritual grounding.

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