Why STARTTS has a Capoeira Angola Program

Introduction

The paper reviews on Capoeira Angola Program in Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS). Capoeira Angola refers to an Afro-Brazilian art which integrates features of martial dance, music and arts. In this art, a roda (circle) is formed by participants, who take turns singing, playing music instruments, or ‘sparring’ ritually in the roda centre, in pairs. The marking of sparring is facilitated by sweeping leg and arm movements, and fluid play. The art is regarded as a non-contract and non-violent performance. Capoeira Angola developed out of the Afro-Brazilian population struggle in Brazil, majority of whom were smuggled from Angola in the 16th century to work as slaves (Startts.org.au, 2017). The Angolans carried their traditional music, movement and dance along. This is what has evolved to develop what is currently referred to as Capoeira de Angola, a fierce art concealed as a dance. The art was physical and mental defence system over oppression. Due to its great ability to enhance physical and mental health, the art has been adopted by various organizations. These organizations are dedicated into helping people who have or are experiencing trauma (Startts.org.au, 2017). This paper reviews the application of the art in STARTTS.

Application of Capoeira Angola Program in Startts

Children need love, emotional support and care. These are accomplished based on how a child is treated from birth onwards until maturity. Love and good care in infancy from one or defined caregivers results to development of strong attachment.  With continuous support the child grow with self-confidence, emotional maturity, and with high trust to his or her care giver. The child also gets to trust the caregiver such that he or she is free to explore the environment. Positive support eliminates the fear of danger, and makes the child to feel secure to explore. However, when the situation changes due to one reason or another, all the positive development are destroyed and the child gets new illusion. This is mostly possible in situation where a country experience civil war or a family experiences any danger (Startts.org.com, 2012). During this time, the child gets to experience traumatizing situations. These situations initiate fear, anxiety, and distrust among others, creating the need to rebuild their emotional, social, and psychological wellbeing. STARTTS is one of the Australian organizations that focus on restoring the wellbeing of refugees, including children.

STARTTS is a non-profit, specialist organization which has for over 25 years given cutting edge and culturally suitable psychological support and treatment. This is done aiming at assisting individuals heal the torture scars and trauma of refugees. The organization also reconstructs refugees’ lives in Australia. STARTTS assists communities and people from refugee backgrounds that include asylum seekers. These are people who are forced out of their country because of persecution in the political conflict context. Other causes include violations of human rights and organized violence (Startts.org.au, 2017). The organization focuses on all refugees, which include people of all ages, genders, and different cultural background. The organization also has a special program that is dedicated into catering at young refugees. This program focuses on children and young people below 18 years. Its main aim is to support these children and young people to overcome trauma associated with their past experiences.

STARTTS has adopted the Capoeira Angola Program which offers training in various areas that are essential for young refugees. According to Momartin, Aroche and Coello (n.d), majority of the young persons who come to STARTTS from refugee backgrounds have experienced trauma of high degrees of trauma related with the living in refugee camps, conflict or dispossession. The trauma for a good number of young people can initiate behavioral problems and impact their aptitude to build trusting relationships and to concentrate, particularly in a school setting. Capoeira Angola stimulates self-awareness, respect, empowerment, and developing people strength in a group setting. It enhances the development of all significant elements for a young individual trying to come to term with trauma.

STARTTS enhances the implementation of the Capoeira Angola Program by use of Project Bantu. Project Bantu refers to a psycho-social intervention which offers Capoeira Angola to aboriginal young people. It also offers these services to all young people in NSW with refugee backgrounds, irrespective of their origin. The program caters for all young refugees absorbed by the STARTTS organization. This includes Asian origin refugees. It therefore adapts multicultural aspects in its intervention process. The Project Bantu integrates group intervention, music and dance aspects. Thus, it uses Capoeira Angola to enhance self-esteem and confidence, and assisting young refugees to learn self-control and discipline. It assists young people in making friends and eliminating loneliness (Refugeetraumaconf.org.au, 2017). It therefore plays a great role in enhancing the level of happiness of the involved young people.  Capoeira Angola is said to contain ethical, moral and physical codes that the player are needed to respect and follow. This plays a great role in influencing players on understanding the importance of law and restrictions in life. The interaction between physical and musical elements is a community micro representation and thus, it imitates interactions in life. In a safe environment, Capoeira Angola skills can be rehearsed by young people to enhance their success mostly at school and at home (Momartin, Aroche & Coello, n.d). The Capoeira Angola skills in this case include developing expression and self-awareness, and respecting rules. It also enhances skills that include belonging into a group, managing bad feelings, respecting oneself and others. Children practicing Capoeira Angola also acquire skills that include learning from mistakes and responding to bullying. The program also helps in improving relationships and increasing interpersonal skills. It increases anger control and the control of other associated behaviors. Capoeira Angola program also increases a sense of responsibility and self-discipline.

Children with adversity experience a number of problems that include emotional problems, aggression and anger, fear and insecurity, uncertainty, poor self-esteem, distrust, and other psychological and emotional problems. These experiences influence their behaviors while interacting with other children, and other people in their life including grownups. Past traumas and lack of assurance in life can make it hard for a child or young person to control their behaviors. They would in most cases react to attract attention, or to safeguard themselves from any perceived danger. They may also show a sense of helplessness, and rejection (Momartin, Aroche & Coello, n.d). Experiencing traumatic situation may make a young person to isolate themselves, and to be tantrum. Although Capoeira Angola does not solve all these problems, it highly helps in harnessing young adults behaviors. By improving their interpersonal relationship, and self-esteem, this program makes it easy for the involved individuals to earn emotional satisfaction. The program makes them feel more accepted and thus, they can easily express their fears and desires to their friends. They also get to overcome their fears and other negative energies to grow Stronger emotionally.

Statistics

Project Bantu which is run by STARTTS and that is under the Capoeira Angola has been operational in Australia for over 10 years. As stated earlier, this project offers awareness and support program for young refugees. It offers its services to school going refugees aged from 7 years. Currently, the project has majority of its beneficiaries from Syria. The program was established in the organization ten years ago by Mestre Roxiho, an African Brazilian man. The project involves provision of a lesson of Capoeira Angola every week at school. The project assists children who have live through bad times and way to feel better. The project helps the children to forget their suffering and feel much better. Since its establishment, Capoeira Angola has benefited so many refugees; children and young people. The world in 2016 recorded around 61.4 million refugees where 50% of them were children (Momartin, Aroche & Coello, n.d.). According to Fasstt.org.au (2017) Australian has in the last 10 years settled more than 127000 individuals via its humanitarian and refugee program. In the 2008/2009 fiscal year, Australia received 13507 refugees under the humanitarian visa. These refugees originated from different countries in the world. These countries include Sierra Leone, Iraq, Liberia, Burma, Somalia, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Bhutan. Among them, about 7000 were children (Alberto, 2014). STARTTS gets around 3000 clients every year, where about 20% of them are adolescents and children (Momartin, Aroche & Coello, n.d.). When settled, these children are enrolled into different schools run by humanitarian. The STARTTS has established Project Bantu program in these schools where it offers a single lesson per week. Although it is not easy to define the number of the beneficiaries of the program since its establishment, the program has definitely benefited many. It is approximated that the program handles about 30 students per schools at a time. Thus, its practice has highly benefited many. Moreover, all the beneficiaries acquire a permanent skill that they can keep on practicing even in the future. Thus, the acquired benefits are lifetime benefits. The project ensures that the acquired skills are regularly practiced and thus promoting their benefits in a life time.

Diversity in Coverage

The Project Bantu focuses on helping refuges children despite of their cultural background. In its administration, the children are divided based on their community such that children refugees from one country are trained together. This makes it easy to train them Capoeira Angola without incurring challenges like language barriers. In this case, a trainer who can understand the children language; especially for refugees from non-English speaking regions, is identified to assist with the training (Momartin, Aroche & Coello, n.d). Although the trainers have been trying to mix children from different cultural background in advance stage, communication barrier is always an issue (Startts.org.au, 2017). The trainer focuses on ensuring effective results are achieved in all training. Thus, they have to focus on overcoming the cultural barrier issues, especially the language barrier. This is because communication is needed to ensure that the children understand the rules of the game.

The ProjectBantu is applied both in urban and rural areas. The organization has also implemented the project to Aboriginal community for a while now. This is because Capoeira Angola is an art that can entice anyone, especially those who have been exposed to traumatic condition. Thus, its application does not matter on the location. However, the rural application must consider changing the main language of training. The program main focus in all cases is to build self-esteem, self-confidence, and enhance human relationship. It aims at helping children and young people to cope with their previous traumatic events. The program assists in developing their emotion to ensure maturity. This makes it easy for those children to accept the new normal and to live again. It helps them to live a happy life again despite their previous experience. The intervention assists these children to love, trust, and to be happy again after the traumatic incidences (Myan.org.au, n.d.). It therefore builds their resilience and increase their chances of overcoming any other had situation in life without being very negatively affected emotionally. Thus the program is applied in the same manner across the country to all eligible beneficiaries. The only main difference is the language used. The STARTTS tries to use local languages in rural areas, or to match the origin of the refugees and English to those that can understand it.

Resilience

One way the Project Bantu is enhancing young people and children resilience is by integrating Capoeira Angola art in schools. According to Brooks (2006), environmental aspects can contribute to resilience among people. Thus building positive environmental contexts in schools, families and communities can assist in countering negative aspects in lives of children. The program opts to assist children that have been resettled through humanitarian programs while at school. This gives them a chance for better social intervention while still getting the required family care. The program is offered in school which also plays a great role in enhancing resilience. InBrooks (2006) views, protection strengthening in schools offers a risks buffer in some communities and families and adds to positive development of youths among all students (Brooks, 2006). Offering Project Bantu at schools assist in creating positive association between refugees and their teachers, mentors, and families. It also promotes feeling of trust and confidence for school going refugee children. The art introduces a new culture to the refugee which they end up sharing by other children in school. This creates something in common with them. Consequently, they feel close to them and end up trusting them and building their confidence around them. It also makes them to feel more welcomed, safe and valued in the community. This assists these children to gain social skills, disposition for learning and attendance pattern. Thus, the art plays a great role in enhancing the adaptability of the children to the new environment and forgetting of the past experience. This eventually provides them with a new platform to learn to follow a new life direction that is more hopeful.

According to Poncianinho and Almeida (2007), Capoeira Angola has a history of building resilience. It was established by slaves and could do the art to help them cope with their situation at that time. In Poncianinho and Almeida views, Capoeira Angola resilience, adaptability, and durability are its history. Thus, it has a history of healing and helping those who practice it the ability to cope. The art assisted Angolan slaves in Brazil to continue living despite difficult situations in life. It can therefore be effectively used to assist those who are experiencing or have experienced traumatic situation to cope. The incorporation of dance and music assist its applicants to release negative energy as they find joy in music and dance moves. Moreover, the dance involves pairs and thus, bringing its users close to each other. This makes its users feel accepted and loved and thus, making the take it easy in life. The changes make it easy for them to build confidence, trust, and relations. This consequently results to emotional maturity, and positive life outlook. The continuous practice of the art ensures sustainability of the attained positive changes. This eventually results to total healing and continuation of the refugees’ lives without resentment, bitterness, fear, distrust, anxiety or pain.

Conclusion

Capoeira Angola is an African-Brazilian art that was employed by Angolan slaves in Brazil to ease their pain as slaves. The art has since grown in popularity and it has been adapted by STARTTS to assist young people and children refugees to cope with their situation and move one. The STARTTS organization is spreading the program by the use of Project Bantu which is Capoeira Angola training classes’ integration in schools. The main aim of this arrangement is to assist refugee children to cope with their past and to embrace a new life. The main challenge in this program is that Australia receives refugees from different parts of the world. This means that most of targeted children have different cultural backgrounds. To cope with this, the organization tends to group the participants as per their origin, especially due to communication barriers. This mostly happens for children who come to non-English speaking countries. If so, the Project Bantu tends to train them using the language they can understand before integrating them to the rest. This makes it possible for the program to be applicable to all refugees. The program has been found to play a great role in enhancing resilience and rebuilding the lives of these children.

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