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Zambian Performing Arts Troupe and San Diego Youth Unite to Fight Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation

Published 10/25/2018 by Global Communities

Group seeks to build dialogue and community through dance

SAN DIEGO— The power of the arts and the promise of youth will bring together students from San Diego and former street children from Zambia on Friday, Oct. 26, at the Encanto Boys & Girls Club.

Barefeet Theatre will host an interactive storytelling workshop for members of Project ROOTS, a prevention education program that seeks to empower San Diego youth to create a more equitable world, free from violence and exploitation. Both groups have ties to Project Concern International (PCI), Southern California’s largest health and humanitarian organization.

“I find it amazing that, after all these years, PCI is still there for Barefeet,” said Tobias Tembo, who co-founded Barefeet Theatre in 2006 after surviving life on the streets in Zambia. Like thousands of other children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, Tembo found shelter, food and support through PCI’s Africa KidSAFE program. Eventually, he became a peer counselor for PCI and used the training he received in this capacity to help start Barefeet Theatre.

“This is something to be celebrated, but it is also a reminder of our purpose as an organization,” Tembo said. “We need to always remember why we do what we do if we are going to make a difference. PCI is a role model for us, and this trip—to see the home of PCI—is such a good example for us and what we can become in the future.”

For over a decade, Barefeet Theatre has used the transformational power of the arts to elevate the lives of thousands of Zambia’s most vulnerable children. Through interactive theater workshops, psychosocial support and creative self-expression, at-risk youth from 40 communities in Zambia are now gaining the life skills they need to become strong, successful and healthy.

In recognition of these efforts, Barefeet Theatre will receive the 2018 Humanitarian Award at PCI’s annual Hands Across Borders gala on Saturday, Oct. 27, at Hilton San Diego Bayfront. The event will celebrate local and global efforts to advance the safety and well-being of children worldwide and feature a collaborative performance by Barefeet Theatre and Project ROOTS.

“We’re excited about conducting the workshop, learning from participants and receiving this award,” said Grace Banda, performance manager for Barefeet Theatre. “We look forward to going to America and the adventure that awaits us.”

About Project Concern International (PCI): PCI is a San Diego-based global development organization that drives innovation from the ground up to create meaningful and measurable change in people’s lives. Together with our partners, we empower communities to enhance health, end hunger, overcome hardship, and advance women and girls. We envision a world in which the most vulnerable people will have the power to lift themselves out of poverty and to create vital, healthy lives for their families and communities now and for the future. Last year alone, PCI impacted the lives of nearly 12 million people in 18 countries, including the United States. For more information, visit

About Barefeet Theatre: Barefeet Theatre is a non-governmental organization that uses play, creativity and empowerment to give vulnerable children in Zambia a chance at a better life. Barefeet was founded by former street children as a response to the plight of young people living on Zambia’s streets. Through the power of performance, educational workshops and more, we develop vulnerable youth into physically, cognitively and socially competent young people. For more information, visit