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Pleased to meet: Nina Pavlovska
Nina! Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about your role at
My name is Nina Pavlovska. I’m originally from Macedonia, but I have lived in The Netherlands for about four years now as I work for dance4life. In fact, dance4life and I go way back to 2009 when I worked here as an intern in the international team! After that, I left dance4life and did my master and a few other international projects.
I eventually came back to dance4life in 2013 as a program manager for Asia. As a program manager I support and coordinate partners who implement the dance4life model in countries in Asia, specifically Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Nepal and now also in China.
Wat inspires you the most in your work at dance4life?
What inspires me in my work with dance4life has inspired me throughout my whole career. It’s the moments when the work that I do affects young people.
I really believe young people ARE the drivers of change and that they can make a change. That is something I always find inspiring when I get in contact with them, when I see how they work and when I witness their creativity and power in real life.
A good example of this is something that happened during my trip to Nepal with my colleague Jorik. We had a chat with one of the peer leaders there who shared a wonderful story of how much dance4life changed her life. Her story didn’t come out of a question for us to investigate but came very naturally. It was genuine and came from her heart. That is when I thought to myself: this is why I get up every morning.
A lot of dance4life colleagues get to travel for their work. You have just returned from a trip to Nepal yourself. Can you explain why dance4life is involved with Nepal?
In Nepal we have a program that we do in partnership with a few other organizations. They have respective partners in the country just as we do. This project in particular aims to decrease the number of child marriages in Nepal because that’s a very prevalent issue.
Our partner in Nepal is Restless Development Nepal. It is a very vibrant and energetic organization and their intervention is designed in a way to empower young people in schools.
We also have a complementary radio soap. This is a radio drama produced by Free Press Unlimited. The soap targets parents and communicates a very subtle message about the negative consequences of child marriage.
The schools and radio both refer to a helpline. They encourage young people and parents to use this helpline so they can respond to cases that have to do with child marriage.
In that way we hope to create a system in which young people are empowered to talk to their parents about child marriage and so that parents realize the negative consequences of child marriage, because they are the decision makers!
Through research we have found out that parents are the real decision makers, but young people don’t really feel empowered to talk to them about this topic in particular, because it’s a taboo and a very complex topic in general.
Currently, we are trying to do some innovation in the project where we want to bring the radio in the schools. The producers design episodes in a way that both parents and young people can listen to it together and there is a facility for discussion and to stimulate the dialogue on this taboo topic.
Can you tell a bit more about what you did during your trip to Nepal?
On this trip we sat down with our partners and reviewed the progress we have made. We looked at what we have found out through the different research projects and how this impacts the interventions.
For example, we found out that when parents weigh between positive and negative effects of child marriage, somehow the consequences that they consider positive, are overweighing the negative consequences.
The parents are aware of the negative consequences of child marriage, but they are not aware of the positive consequences if you DON’T let your child marry. This is why we really want to communicate positive messages about what it means to keep your children in school.
In what ways can you tell that dance4life has an impact there?
From personal experience, when I visited the school for example, we saw a community where the young people themselves had come up with a performance which they did for the parents. There were also some discussions around child marriage.
I think that if you put it in the context of Nepal, this is pretty revolutionary. Especially if you see how basic the conditions are and the fact that they came up with a very creative piece to communicate the message. That was wonderful to see and I think the challenge that they face is that parents are not keen to come to these community events they organize as a school.
After the event, we sat down with the parents to discuss how they can be agents4change as adults in their community, and how they can inform others about what they saw and provoke a discussion. Because even just talking about it is challenging.
I think in that way I can see the impact our program has had but I think the best is to look at it scientifically and I think we definitely are on a good track to prove that we are going to make a difference!