Health education through radio and theatre

For many years Oxfam supported the drama group, Wan Smolbag, with their work to increase awareness and demystify issues around reproductive health, in particular sexually transmitted diseases and HIV and AIDS.

Using radio and theatre to educate the community

Photo: Wan Smolbag recording the show.
Wan Smolbag recording their radio soap opera.

The group call themselves Wan Smolbag or ‘One Small Bag’, as that’s all an actor needs – one small bag of costumes. Their aim is to show people that with just their one small bag, they can tour the region educating the public, nurses, teachers and theatre groups about how they can use drama to address a range of social issues.

The group works to promote gender equality issues in the media and in the community, and also performs plays about electoral rights, domestic violence, environmental issues and human rights.

Making a difference

By talking to people in the villages, Wan Smolbag finds out about some of the myths people believe about reproductive health, and incorporate them into the soaps, educating people gently and humorously into safer practices.

Photo: Wan Smolbag theatre production.
Wan Smolbag's touring theatre production.

Messages are reaching far and wide and people across Vanuatu frequently rush home from work to catch the latest instalment of the radio soap. At least 7000 people listen regularly throughout all the inhabited islands and 84 percent of the population say they’ve listened to it.

As well as the radio drama and touring theatres, Wan Smolbag runs a nutrition centre providing education on health and nutrition, as well as an income generation scheme for young people.