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Disabled and able-bodied Ugandans dance to show the worth of it all

15 December 2017


Mission in action: the SPLASH Dance Company family

Mission in action: the SPLASH Dance Company family

A DANCE company has been set up in Uganda to bring together disabled and able-bodied people. A basketball player, a weightlifter, and a street beggar are in the eight-person troupe.

The company, Splash DC, was the idea of Helen Burningham, a mission partner with the Church Mission Society (CMS), who trained in dance and choreography.

It was formed earlier this year, and has already performed at several festivals in Uganda, and has been invited to more.

Miss Burningham said: “Every day, I see young people on the streets of Kampala sitting in wheelchairs or on the floor looking up and reaching their hand for any penny that someone may drop. The sight of so much need inspired me to form SPLASH DC, a place where I hope our performers can find dignity and others may see the talent and worth they each possess.

“Each person adds their own contribution to the group, bringing a collective statement of equality regardless of difference. Together, we are more than the sum of our individual talents, and with just one person missing the splash would not be as impactful.”

The troupe’s members are aged between 18 and 30. Speaking of one of its members, Joseph, Miss Burningham said: “Joseph has had many challenges but his positive outlook overrides his circumstances. He thrives on stage and is a role-model for both people with, and without, disabilities.”

Miss Burningham has been seconded from CMS to work with Crane, a charity working with children at risk in the Greater Kampala region of Uganda. She is currently in the UK speaking to churches about her work with the dance troupe.

Her aim is to raise enough funds to hold open classes for anyone to join in and learn to dance, whether able-bodied or disabled.

Disabled Africa, a charity, says that disabled people in African countries “are among the poorest and most disenfranchised people in the world. They . . . frequently go without education, medical care, social interaction, and even food.”

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