Broadway actors Bryce Pinkham (a stage and screen actor best known for originating the role of Monty Navarro in the Broadway production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder) and Lucas Caleb Rooney (known for The Drop, The Magic of Belle Isle, and One Last Thing) may not use the most conventional techniques to empower kids to stay in school, but they have found great success in doing so. Zara Aina, established by Bryce and Lucas in 2012, is a non-profit organization working to develop sustainable arts programs that are changing lives!
Zara Aina is a Malagasy expression which means "share life"; Its goal is to provide a cultural exchange between impoverished Malagasy communities and American actors. "We're taking American artists to Madagascar to work with at risk kids and using theatre and storytelling as a tool to keep kids in school... More actors could use this time in a third world country," says Bryce.
"I found people who were incredibly generous, incredibly open, welcoming, excited... I also found a country in a dire situation. The average Malagasy makes $50 a year, 1 in every 2 kids is malnourished, and the infant mortality rate is close to 40%" says Lucas.
On their pilot trip to Madagascar in 2013, Zara Aina consisted of 10 American volunteer artists and teachers who spent a month living with 14 middle school students. They built and rehearsed a show based on a Malagasy folktale, which the children were able to perform all over Madagascar.
Following the 1st residency, Malagasy facilitators continued working with the students, building new shows and providing English lessons. Bryce and Lucas continued to raise funds for the program, which also helps pay for school tuition.
Over the past 4 years, 4 different acting troops have brought their skills to share with the kids and have succeeded in helping 12 out of 15 of their students finish school. Bryce and Lucas are now raising more money to buy land and build a permanent school/theater for the children and they are now looking to expand their program to communities in the US.
For more information on Zara Aina or to donate to their cause, visit Zara Aina's webiste.