A-Z index | Search
Goldtooth - A Street Children's Musical
Stairway Foundation Inc.
Lars C. Jørgensen and Monica Ray Jørgensen
Stairway Foundation Inc.
Brgy. Aninuan, Puerto Galera
Oriental Mindoro, Philippines 5202
Médecins Sans Frontiéres
Embassy of Denmark
Embassy of Finland
Working with children living or working on the streets over the
years we have seen few examples of children themselves giving voice
to their situation. World-wide, such children make up a large silent
minority without much influence on policies and the socio-economic
circumstances affecting their lives. They are generally considered
a burden to society and the general public has not given their plight
sufficient priority to put pressure on politicians and decision-makers
to invest in solutions to this growing problem.
To make the general public and the world-wide media sensitive to
the realities of these children, and to demonstrate their potential,
we staged and toured with a musical production in which 17 children
with past experience of living or woking on the street were able
to speak for millions of children around the world.
Aims and objectives
Goldtooth - A Street Children's Musical was a model for
actively involving young people in their own development. The aim
of Goldtooth was to enable children involved in the project
(beggars, scavengers, solvent sniffers, sex workers, juvenile delinquents
and those with health problems) to discover and cultivate their
unique talents, skills and strengths. It also empowered them to
become advocates for their own cause, and challenged them to go
back to the streets to help others like themselves. The musical
gained international attention and became an international campaign
for children's rights.
Endangered children from the streets of Manila.
Children living or working on the streets and the general public.
The 17 child performers were the immediate or direct beneficiaries.
Making people aware of the urgency of the problem will benefit similar
children world- wide.
Involvement of children
The child performers also took part in all stages of the production
- from making sets and costumes and doing the lighting, to press
conferences and the after- programme outreach to other children
on the streets and in jail.
Summary of project
The performance of Goldtooth - A Street Children's Musical
was the main activity in this campaign for children's rights. The
end product was a series of performances in several countries with
extensive press coverage.
The partners listed above provided most of
the funding. A large number of organizations and individuals financed
the international tour of the campaign.
The production and the presentations in the Philippines amounted
to around US$50.000.
The international tour amounted to around US$200,000. This amount
was not raised in cash, since a great deal of the support and contributions
were in kind.
Strengths of project
The strength of the campaign was that it made thousands of people
aware of the realities of the children's lives. The performance
by children with experience of living or working on the streets
meant that it was completely authentic. We are particularly proud
of the high artistic quality of the production. Many people asked
whether the children were really from the streets or whether they
were really professional actors. Most of the audience left the theatre
with an altered perception of such children in general. Together,
we proved that the children have great potential that deserves much
more attention and investment.
The children performed before a wide variety of audiences - for
children from the streets in Manila; at the Asian Development Bank's
annual meeting in front of 1,500 bankers, diplomats, ambassadors
and ministers from around the world; for the general public and
thousands of students in the Philippines, Finland, Denmark and Switzerland;
and at the International Conference for Child Welfare in Helsinki,
as well as the UN Palais in Geneva in celebration of the 10th anniversary
of the Convention on the Rights
of the Child.
The entire project was a huge challenge. Most remarkable was the
difficulty encountered by everyone involved in returning to normal
life after the excitement of touring. A great deal of effort went
into dealing with this aspect of the project.
The Philippines performances attracted the attention of Professor
Belen Calingacion from the University of the Philippines, who followed
and documented the last year of the project, including what became
of the children involved. We have plenty of evidence that the project
had a very strong impact on the audiences attending the performances.
There is a demand for non-traditional methods of informing and
making the general public and students sensitive to the realities
of those marginalized in our society. We are currently working on
another project with the same objective.
In retrospect, the project should have been more profit-oriented
to secure the continuity of the foundation and to finance new projects.
The greatest challenge was to facilitate the 'return to normal
life' for everyone involved after the project ended. It is important
to make sure that all input and influence from the adults involved
Audiences were left with positive perceptions of young people;
they could identify with the performers and as a result could relate
to experiences that may have been very distant from their own lives.
At the gala performance held at the GSIS theatre in Manila, the
director placed the entire cast outside the theatre for an hour
before the performance began. The area around the theatre is a hangout
for children living on the streets, so the scene that met the arriving
audience was not unfamiliar. The kids were in their costumes, which
were no different from what they used to wear when they were on
the streets, and the reactions they received from the people arriving
at the theatre were no different from their life experiences a couple
of years earlier. Generally, they were rejected and seen as a threat.
One child was almost arrested by the police, but a security guard
working at the theatre intervened and the child was released. The
audience's radical change of perception, between seeing them in
a different role outside the theatre and their final bow during
the standing ovation, indicated how much the children and the project
Performance is an effective medium for communication because it
not only affects people intellectually but also emotionally. Art
can change lives.
partners | Privacy
policy | Top