Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lynet's Singing Was the Most Beautiful Sound; Anna Scher, Whose Theatre School Boasts Alumni Such as Kathy Burke, Martin Kemp, Linda Robson and Phil Daniels, Explains How Sponsoring a Zimbabwean Girl Changed Her Life

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lynet's Singing Was the Most Beautiful Sound; Anna Scher, Whose Theatre School Boasts Alumni Such as Kathy Burke, Martin Kemp, Linda Robson and Phil Daniels, Explains How Sponsoring a Zimbabwean Girl Changed Her Life

Article excerpt

THE most enduring memory of my visit to Africa in 1994 is of joyful singing. For the past four years, the Anna Scher Theatre had been sponsoring Lynet Zikiti, a young Zimbabwean girl, and this trip was the first time we had met.

As I stepped out of the car, Lynet and all the women of her family came to greet me, singing "We welcome you, dear friend", over and over. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.

Lynet was wearing her best dress.

That evening we ate together, and I gave the family gifts from the children of my theatre school. Their house was a simple mud hut, surrounded by flowers, in the shade of a glorious purple jacaranda tree. I have to admit I couldn't hold back the tears as a little boy thanked us for everything we had done.

The trip was organised by Plan UK, which helps individuals and organisations sponsor children in developing countries.

I became involved in 1990. Its slogan then was Changing the World, One Child at a Time, which appealed to me immensely. It echoed the words of my hero, Mahatma Gandhi, when he said that we must "start with the children" if we are to achieve peace in the world.

We were allocated Lynet, and over the following years she became very much a part of our school. All the children and staff would write to her and every few months we'd receive a letter from her. We mounted them all with lots of photographs in a wall display. Finally meeting Lynet and her family in 1994 was one of the highlights of my life.

The visit was part of a project called Pebbles for Peace, which I have taken all over the world since founding my theatre in 1968. The idea is to educate and integrate young people through theatre exercises, improvisation and discussion.

I'VE been to Tibet, helping to integrate the children with the Chinese. I've done workshops in Ireland, with Catholics and Protestants; with Serbs and Croats in Bosnia; with Hindus and Muslims in India.

In Zimbabwe, we were there to work on Aids awareness. It was heartbreaking to see families headed by children as young as 10, because their parents had died of the disease. Some would arrive at the workshops carrying babies almost as big as they were. …

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