Enabling sparks to emerge: games, activities and narrative practice by Serge Nyirinkwaya

In this Friday Afternoon Video, Serge Nyirinkwaya draws from narrative practices – re-authoring conversations, the absent but implicit and collective narrative practices – and from experiential learning models – as he tells his story of practice: a playful approach to assist children and young people who have experienced hard times to respond to traumatic memories from a safe territory, without requiring them to speak in the first person about their experiences

Games and other activities are used to create a shared experience in which young people employ skills and values. These experiences are used as the basis for a cycle of experiential learning in which children reflect on their experiences and make links with their pasts and futures to support alternative story development and rich acknowledgment of what they give value to and their skills of living and being. In addition to seeking ways to avoid retraumatising, pathologising and stigmatising young people, this process has been developed to offer practitioners an easy to apply and locally resonant way of engaging with children and young people who have been through hard times. It uses local metaphors like making visible young people’s capacity to resist and endure (Being Mudaheranwa), inviting young people to stand together on Akarwa k’Amahoro (Peace Island), and enabling mutual contribution through features of traditional Itorero schooling, including the use of stories of pride, songs and poetic mottos (Ibyivugo).

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Author biography

Serge Nyirinkwaya is a narrative therapist, trainer and clinical supervisor from Rwanda. He works with vulnerable children, young people and families as Director of Programs at SOS Children’s Villages, Rwanda. He is currently involved in a psychosocial support program to build mental health competencies for supporting vulnerable children and young people in Rwanda where part of his tasks is to teach narrative practices to practitioners from Rwanda and other African countries. Serge has completed the 2019 Master of Narrative Therapy and Community Work at the Dulwich Centre. He can be contacted by email at nyirser@gmail.com

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