Children set to share experiences of poverty at special workshop

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Children from Swansea are being given the chance to discover more about the experience of poverty in Bangladesh and India at a special event hosted by Swansea University.

The tri-nation (UK, Bangladesh, India) PACONDAA project aims to reduce poverty by preventing diseases affecting vital aquaculture in those countries. 

It brings together bioscientists and social researchers in India, Bangladesh and the UK and is funded by the UK Research Councils (BBSRC and ESRC), the Newton-Bhabha Fund, UK Aid and the Ministry of Science and Technology, India.

As their part of it the University’s Dr Tanjil Sowgat and Dr Sergei Shubin spent the past two years encouraging communities in India and Bangladesh to influence the future of where they live.

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Children in Bangladesh taking part in a story-making workshop.

In Bangladesh the pair worked with villagers, local government officials, schools and artists to organise various events including training sessions for farmers, workshops with children, cultural collaborations, exhibitions and a festival.

Using a combination of art, storytelling and practical activities, the academics provided hard-to-reach groups with a voice for the first time.

Now the fruits of that partnership are being shared with Swansea schoolchildren at the project’s first UK event focused around an exhibition which is running at the Taliesin Arts Centre until Wednesday, 18 July.

On Wednesday, 12 July the Taliesin is hosting an event on co-designing sustainable futures, which will include a workshop with 30 children aged from nine to 11, from St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School to produce views of equitable futures in response to Bangladeshi artwork and paintings.

The event, set to be open by Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Martin Stringer is aimed at not only improving pupils’ knowledge about poverty but also establishing links between the UK and Bangladesh to share educational resources and improve social wellbeing.

Dr Sowgat said: “We invited the pupils to work with a local artist to produce a response to Bangladeshi art and draw postcards of life in Swansea.

“We are also developing storybooks with the children in Bangladesh featuring their poverty stories, which we hope to share with the children here.”

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A painting done by a local artist in Bangladesh, as a part of the team's impact activity.

He said the project’s work had already received very positive feedback from communities in all three countries involved and also received Swansea University's Research as Art award in the Interpretation category to retelling the stories of poverty from Bangladesh.

One Bangladeshi farmer said PACONDAA’s intervention had given a sense of purpose to people who often feel overlooked by anti-poverty programmes.  She said: ‘Your presence and your engagement with us made us feel very happy. I am pleased that you are listening to us and trying to make our voices heard to the outside world.”

The Swansea pupils’ workshop follows on from PACONDAA’s success at this University’s Research and Innovation Awards held last month. The team lifted the Outstanding Contribution to the Arts, Culture and Society title and also used the prestigious event at the Bay Campus to exhibit artwork created during the project.

Dr Shubin added: “We have been delighted these events have given us the chance to reach diverse audiences and showcase the works of young people and Bangladeshi artists internationally."

PACONDAA is a consortium of nine research institutes and universities working to reduce poverty by controlling two microorganisms which cause disease in Asian aquaculture. 

It uses creative and artistic techniques to encourage largely excluded and illiterate people to get involved in shaping their future through improved training and the development of anti- poverty and sustainability strategies.