Our Stories is an initiative of The Asia Foundation that aims to connect youth with elders through the use of storytelling and arts.
The project uses real life stories of elders that were collected by the Family Rehabilitation Centre (FRC) in the districts of; Ampara, Kalutara, Kurunegala, Mannar, Trincomalee, and Vavuniya. Working with FRC ensured that necessary psychosocial support was provided to elders throughout the process during which they recounted their personal life stories. These stories were collected using the Guide to Accounts: Individual Narratives and Stories (GAINS) tool developed by the Foundation for practitioners, which ensured that stories were compiled in a psychosocially sensitive manner and that proper care was given to elders as they navigated through their past memories.
For artistic guidance, the Foundation partnered with the Theertha International Artists’ Collective to mentor selected artists through a series of interactive workshops and discussions, on transforming life stories into different forms of art; including painting, sculpture, poetry, short films, among others.
Due to the prevailing situation of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, project activities including workshops and mentoring activities conducted by Theertha were shifted to online platforms. Engagements with the project beneficiaries were thus accomplished in a challenging environment where providing adequate feedback and support but also building relationships and trust among youth from various communities required further efforts by the mentors.
Through Our Stories, the Foundation aims to create a shared space among communities where elders are able to pass on their memories to young people, with the hope of creating a better society, one that is based on shared values, resilience and social cohesion. For youth, this creates opportunities to learn from the past and identify key values and life lessons through which they could enrich their own lives, as well as the lives of others within their communities. For elders, it gives them an opportunity to feel socially included and provides them with a sense of belonging.