Home' The Mt Barker Courier : The Courier - 2015-05-13 Contents www.courier.net.au
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 – PAGE 19
By Judy Richards-Norris
PHOEBE Wilson has found
wisdom and compassion far
beyond her 25 years.
The passionate animal rights advocate,
equestrienne and nutritionist from
Mt Barker has always wanted to
contribute to the underprivileged but
felt compelled to also follow a career
that would give her self-satisfaction.
Her great love of theatre gave her
natural highs so she looked for ways
to combine her passions and found the
answer on the other side of the world,
Leaving an Australian bushland
setting behind, Ms Wilson has
embarked on a journey to Lira in
Uganda to empower former child
soldiers through theatre workshops
and dream building as part of a
rehabilitation and reintegration
Through Project Phoenix Theatre,
a charity founded by herself, the
Mt Barker Waldorf School graduate
is aiming to fundraise more than
$100,000 to go towards equipment
and the building of a learning centre
in Lira, where former child soldiers
can heal and participate in cultural
exploration while learning vocational
“I am delighted that my dream has
come together,” she said.
“The seed was sown on a trip to India
with other Waldorf School graduates.
“Our mentor Peter Glasby, who has
now sadly passed away, accompanied
us around India from Chennai to Goa,
where we entertained children in
schools and villages in a performing
arts production of an Indian legend
called Sufi – a Conference of the Birds.
“While we were enthralled by the
colors and vibrancy of the country, the
children were equally thrilled by our
costumes, lights and performances.
“One of our team members made the
most amazing bird-like costumes that
captivated our audiences.
“It was an unforgettable experience.”
After returning to Australia she began
training horses, she then travelled
around Europe before returning home
to train in nutrition. All the time
theatre was foremost in her mind.
“The idea to take theatre to children
was compelling and after hearing the
plight of former child soldiers in Africa,
I knew I had found the answer,” she
“I established Project Phoenix and
gathered some talented people around
me, including skilled theatre work-
shoppers, actors, directors, musicians
and technicians, some from as far away
as Canada and the UK.
“So here we are on an amazing
theatrical and compassionate journey
to help children in the Children of
Peace Uganda project.
“Who knows where it may lead and
how much we may achieve.”
Ms Wilson said around 300,000
children were being used in conflicts
“Child soldiers of all ages are forcibly
recruited or manipulated into joining
armed groups to be used as cooks,
messengers, spies or for sexual
purposes,” she said.
“Girls are often abused by rebel
commanders as ‘wives’, exposing them
to sexually transmitted diseases and
birth at a very young age.
“They are threatened with violence
should they attempt to escape and
many are forced to take drugs, witness
beatings, torture and massacres or kill
their own family members.
“Reintegration is complex and lengthy,
as often these young people are
stigmatised by their communities and
families and unable to re-enter into
their former society.
“They have missed vital childhood
years of education, family nurture and
“Many have psychological damage,
physical injuries or sexually
transmitted diseases that make certain
“Drama therapy has long been used for
confronting, expressing and managing
the effects of traumatic experiences.
“Our main aim is to create a safe
environment in our drama workshops
where we offer love and compassion
to help them heal and explore their
“Research shows that self-expression
and social interaction through theatre
workshops can minimise long-term
effects of trauma and build strength
“These children are leaders of the
future and we intend to give them a
chance to recover and forgive, so that
their future agenda will be peace and
Born in 1989, Ms Wilson grew up with
her brother Eric in Mt Barker with
her Scottish-born father, veterinary
surgeon Douglas Wilson and Finnish-
born mother Martina, a marine biology
“Our parents taught us to be aware of
environmental, nutritional and world
issues and Waldorf School continued
with that learning,” she said.
Captivated when exposed to theatre,
especially the works of Shakespeare
as a young girl, her lifelong love of the
theatre was ignited.
“I couldn’t understand some of my
peers not understanding theatre,
especially the great language and
humanness of Shakespeare,” she said.
“Although his works can be a bit of a
puzzle at first, the more you read and
study them, the more they come to life.
“His plays are as relevant today as
they were when he wrote them.
“When I was working in London,
I enjoyed many productions at
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
“I love every aspect of theatre,
whether it is creating it, watching it or
researching its history.
“How powerful I believe it is in
reflecting, challenging and creating our
identity in our culture and society.”
and gathered some
– Phoebe Wilson
Rebuilding child soldiers’ lives
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Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2015
The Premier's NAI DOC Award recognises the outstanding
achievements and contributions of an extraordinary South Australian
whose service and contributions have had the effect of making a
significant difference to the life and welfare of Aboriginal people in
Nominees must be:
• a resident of South Australia
• over the age of 18 years as at the 1st of January in the year in
which they are nominated
• a person who has made a significant difference and contribution to
the lives and welfare of Aboriginal people in South Australia.
Please note that persons cannot nominate themselves.
Along with the nomination form, please provide the names and
addresses of three referees who are in a position to comment on the
Nominations must be received by COB Friday 22 May 2015.
Please send your nomination marked ‘confidential’ to:
The Premier's NAI DOC Award
C/- Lucinda Watson
Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation
Department of State Development
GPO Box 320
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Or by email to Lucinda Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nomination forms can be obtained from the Department of
State Development website www.statedevelopment.sa .gov.au/
Alternatively you may telephone 08 8226 8900 during office hours
or contact Lucinda Watson on email.
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