Tony Sadvie

In 2021, Tony Savdié is back in his village in the western highlands of Guatemala, a place he has called home since concluding his time with CIE's Proyecto COMAL in 2000. After twenty one years in Guatemala he has put in his papers and hopes to get his Guatemalan residency shortly. He feels he has devoted sufficient time to meditating on this important decision.


The year of the pandemic caught Tony by surprise. The fortnight he was meant to spend in Paris with friends and family turned into an eight-month, three-season sabbatical in the town where he was born. He spent part of the time like everybody else in his pajamas staring blankly at on-line streaming sites, but was also able for several months to work on an updated and expanded version of a psycho-social support program for recently resettled refugees and asylum seekers.


He wrote the original, the Families in Transition training package in 1996. Both packages contain a series of group activities designed to enhance participants' community living skills, normalize the sequelae of what are often traumatic refugee experiences and soften the impact of cultural transition. The activities are divided into thematic modules covering such topics as employment, mental health, money and consumer skills.


It complements and increases the scope of the original package, which is still in use after twenty six years, promoted by the New South Wales Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors, an agency of the state department of health. A number of games that draw inspiration from CIE's Critical Games and other publications were included. If all goes well, the draft will be piloted sometime in 2021.


Meanwhile back in Guatemala Tony's main project, Proyecto Payaso, also known as the travelling AIDS Education Circus, has all but concluded after a run of almost 20 years. A reduced team still use clowning and street theatre interventions in rural areas to discuss sexual and reproductive health and human rights, and activities are now short-term contracts for sister organizations implemented by a part-time team of indigenous youth peer educators. At its peak, the Clowns were intervening in prisons, brothels, border areas, villages and marginal urban areas with a combination of workshops, games, street clowning and forum theatre. Youth, indigenous, people living with HIV, women and combinations thereof were trained and supported to run peer education activities.


For 15 years the program functioned with support from a wide variety of donors and covered communities from Chiapas throughout Central America, with spinoff projects in Peru and Venezuela. (see article by Tony published in 2009, in the journal Development in Practice) The clown’s toolbox of communication and education strategies were presented at the World Conference on Communication and Development in 2006 and at the world AIDS conferences from 2004 to 2012.


Tony is currently writing a novel that fictionalizes parts of the clowning experience. He jumps daily into Lake Atitlán for inspiration and still carries his red nose around in his pocket, just in case. His daughter Amanda is 11. Bees, fruit trees and playing music keep him busy. His two puppies, Pachi and Galleta, keep him even busier. He is delighted to hear from his old co-conspirators at CIE and has many fond memories of his years in Massachusetts. He is no longer on social media, but can be contacted below. [2-21]



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