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Storyteller Choma Choma and thrilled children engaging in a story
Storyteller Choma Choma engaging with the children during storytelling session

Storytelling Transforms Lives while Preserving Culture

Storytelling provides several advantages to children. As children listen to stories, they acquire knowledge, establish connections with their cultural heritage, and help carry forward traditions. 

ChildsPlay International’s (CPI) pioneering program in Lusaka, Zambia, brings together children across a wide age range in dynamic storytelling sessions. 

This innovative model, including children ages 5 to 15, has proven highly successful. CPI is dedicated to play-based education, using storytelling as a powerful tool that transcends traditional classrooms. 

Drawing or Painting the Story

When time, space, and material permit, we encourage drawing or painting. 

Through drawing or painting after listening to a story, children can communicate complex ideas and messages that would otherwise be impossible due to a lack of vocabulary.

Children posing with the drawings they made during storytelling session
Through drawing, children can communicate complex ideas and messages that would otherwise be impossible due to a lack of vocabulary.

The Storytelling Program

Richard Salunoka, PhD., is CPI’s esteemed partner in Zambia. He is deeply involved in supporting vulnerable children in the capital Lusaka and throughout the country. 

The storytelling pilot, initially set to enroll 15 children, saw an overwhelming response, ultimately accommodating 20 eager participants. Excited by the first session, children shared their experiences with friends, resulting in additional enrollments. Boys and girls from diverse backgrounds meet once a week at a local community building in the capital

CPI’s Team in Zambia

Focusing on the Story

Richard Salunoka telling a story during storytelling session

Team Leader Richard Salunoka holds up a hand-drawn artwork created by one of our 12-year-old students in honor of the women at CPI for International Women’s Day. 

Storyteller Sister Mary handed out paper for the children to draw on after the storytelling session.

Sister Mary and children during storytelling session in Lusaka, Zambia

Richard was the storyteller during the early storytelling sessions. Renowned for his captivating oratory skills, he effortlessly held the children spellbound with each story.

In week three, he introduced Sister Mary, an engaging and captivating teacher and master storyteller, to further enhance the storytelling experience for the children. In subsequent sessions, Sister Mary’s weaving tales left the children hanging onto her every word. Since then, Richard has brought in master storyteller Chuma Chuma, who is a great addition to the growing storytelling program!

Storytellers

A storyteller might be closer than you think.

Storytellers are sensitive people, especially toward children.

Storytellers can be elderly staff at the school, the groundskeeper, a retired teacher, or a person in the community, or another tribe.

Chuma Chuma the storyteller

Storyteller Chuma Chuma

Chuma Chuma, a newcomer to the storytelling program since April, brings an incredible talent for storytelling to the team.
Sister Mary and a volunteer

Storteller and teacher Sister Mary

Sister Mary has been part of the storytelling program since its inception. Children hang on to her every word.
Richard Salunoka in front of the children during a storytelling session

CPI's Zambia Partner Richard Salunoka

Richard's dedication to aiding vulnerable children radiates in each session. His ambition is to extend the program nationwide.

A Play-Based Educational Partnership

CPI’s holistic approach to education integrates storytelling with art and the preservation of local culture.

Storytelling serves as a powerful tool for education, transcending traditional classrooms.

Richard remembers conducting a Google search for an international organization committed to transforming children’s lives while preserving culture.

“While other organizations focus on individual components such as culture advocacy, or mentorship, CPI integrates multiple elements including storytelling, art, play, friendship, and mentorship into its activities. This holistic approach ensures that CPI's programs are well-rounded and complete, addressing various aspects of children's development.”
Profile photo Richard Salunoka
Richard Salunoka
CPI Partner, Zambia

Making Children Feel Valued

Richard begins each session with a roll call, ensuring that each child feels recognized and valued. Then he leads a round of applause for the children, who enthusiastically applaud themselves, fostering a sense of pride and camaraderie.

The program promotes critical thinking and a healthy sense of self-esteem. It empowers the children to express themselves and learn from one another in a safe setting. The program involves them with traditional culture, which the stories represent. Opening and closing rituals are integral to our storytelling program, and mark off a “safe space” where children feel uninhibited.

 

Watch the video of children giving themselves a round of applause, fostering a sense of pride and camaraderie.

YouTube logo

Establishing a Safe and Nurturing Environment is Crucial for Successful Storytelling Sessions

 

Consistency is key, with each session ideally maintaining the same structure, location, facilitators, and timing. Opening and closing rituals help mark the beginning and end of each session, signaling to children that they are entering storytelling time. Even if sessions take place outdoors, marking the safe space with visual cues such as rocks or an invisible circle helps create a sense of security and separation from the outside world.

 

CPI’s Storytelling Manual in Action

CPI’s Storytelling Manual guides our partners, who tailor it to fit their cultural requirements and practical needs. 

Richard introduced his own approach by starting each session with a review of the previous story, sparking enthusiastic responses from the children. 

The children’s eager participation demonstrates their engagement with the tales shared in each session. As a result, we have decided to incorporate this approach into our other storytelling programs. 

Storytelling manual offering storytelling program

Drawing Plays a Crucial Role in CPI's Storytelling Program

When time, space, and material permit, we encourage drawing or painting.

Through drawing, children can communicate complex ideas and messages that would otherwise be impossible due to a lack of vocabulary.

The objective is for each child to paint/draw their understanding and representation of their chosen story.

The children are interpreting, not reproducing what they heard.

Drawing and storytelling are valuable tools for children’s holistic development, nurturing their imagination, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and cultural awareness.

 

Girls attending storytelling session in Kenya

Fostering Intergenerational Bonds in the Digital Era: Storytelling as the Bridge

Storytelling creates a bridge between generations, reinforcing connections and preserving culture.

When CPI created its Storytelling program, the aim was to engage local elders to facilitate the sharing of knowledge between generations.

By involving parents, and older siblings as volunteers, and encouraging storytelling within families, Richard contributes to enriching children’s lives and promoting community unity.

As technology becomes increasingly prevalent, even in the countries where we operate, the connection between generations is at risk of weakening. Storytelling serves as a powerful means to reinforce this bond.

“I applaud CPI's inclusive and comprehensive approach to storytelling, which transcends traditional educational paradigms and enriches the lives of children and families alike. I am already seeing the results.”
Richard Salunoka telling a story during storytelling session
Richard Salunoka
Storytelling Partner, Zambia

Youth Leadership Program

The older siblings of children participating in our storytelling program in Lusaka have been actively involved, assisting with tasks such as distributing snacks, drinks, and materials.


They are enthusiastic participants, fully engaged in the program, and have naturally assumed leadership roles. CPI has suggested organizing a storytelling session led by these older siblings.

About Richard Salunoka

Richard Salunoka is the Founder and President of the Zambia Federation of Gymnastics, an organization dedicated to promoting physical health among young people, particularly those marginalized and lacking access to quality education.

With a firm belief in the transformative power of sports, Richard aims to use gymnastics as a vehicle to foster integration within families and communities while advocating for the rights of children through athletic pursuits. He envisions a future where children can share their stories through sports, empowering them to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Richard’s commitment to mentoring and empowering youth aligns with his vision of creating better societies in Zambia, where children thrive and flourish.

Language Notes

While English is the official language in Zambia, local languages such as Nyanja and Bemba are also widely spoken, especially in Lusaka, the capital.

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