Tell me a Story

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Health Stories"Human experience has an intrinsically narrative, or story, quality about it. The story is the most common and universal means of communicating human experience, and human beings are essentially where story listening/reading and storytelling begins, with story listening/reading being a precondition for storytelling." - Joseph Chorpenning

The teacher pretended to grab a sword in his right hand; he held up an imaginary infant in his left. “Here, I’ll help you mothers,” he bellowed. “I’ll divide the baby in half”. The children gasped. The teacher’s voice suddenly changed to a panicked mother’s tone, “Oh, sire, please don’t harm the baby!” The teacher’s voice dropped. His glance scanned the silent room. “Tell me, who was the true mother? And how do you know?” Arms waved in the air; every child wanted to answer. By the end of that story time, every child wanted wisdom like King Solomon’s. Who wouldn’t? Stories grab. Stories teach.

Midwife StoriesAOB’s Cultural Research project includes training in storytelling. Teachers want to know: How do traditional village storytellers tell a good tale? How can information be relayed using those tried-and-true methods? Storytelling-teams develop stories, using drawings and discussing key points of the lesson. When their story is prepared, they visit villages, tell their story, and ask questions to learn whether the story and its key principle was understood. They return, re-gather, and discuss responses. When necessary, they tweak the stories so that no miscommunication occurs.

Stories are then used in each AOB project. Here are a few examples:

  • In MCH’s traditional-birthing-assistant seminars, real-life scenarios are re-enacted. Through drama or drawings, events are re-lived. As village midwives watch and discuss options, they learn appropriate midwifery responses.
  • AOB’s Media team, “Health and Hope Productions”, uses dramatized stories to speak to current social and medical concerns: insecticide poisoning, child protection, diabetes, dangerous massage, and tobacco-use.
  • In AOB’s Child and Community Development project, our agriculture team and community health workers tell stories. Children then, in exciting competitions, are quizzed on the lessons learned from those stories.

Each of us lives a story. We daily interact with others who share their story with us. We are each characters in God’s all-encompassing story. In our days, we encourage reading, listening, and telling the old, old story.

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