So you think you can dance? Breakdancing program in Tunisia keeps kids off the street
In Kasserine, notorious for its location close to Chaambi Mountains, an area most often portrayed in media as a terrorist hideout and now military territory, two young guys aim to provide the city’s youth with a future free from criminality and extremism. They are the B-boys, and their weapon? Breakdance.
Childhood friends Azmi Achouri and Med Mansouri have decided to bring breakdance to their younger peers. The aim is to give the youth hope, explains 26-year old Achouri, “This initiative is a way to motivate the youth,” he says and argues that the main problem in the city is the hopelessness. “What will the youth do when they are fed up with all problems and obstacles?” asks the young breakdancer.
Despite that unemployment was one of the main reasons behind the revolution, today, more than three years later, the unemployment rates remain high, especially among the youth. There are few activities to keep the young off the streets and there is little to do in Kasserine, says Achouri, so when he and Mansouri started the breakdance initiative it was something completely new.
But it hasn’t been easy, explains Achouri and describes that it has been difficult to obtain a space to practice, and get access to speakers and music. “There have been many obstacles, but I didn’t want them to have the same experiences as us when we were growing up,” he says and adds, “Especially after what they call the revolution.”
Achouri is uncertain about the future. The area recently saw two teenage girls shot dead by the country’s police forces causing outrage against the country’s handling of the security situation. Achouri is not optimistic, he is realistic, but the youth keep coming to escape their everyday problems through the breakdance practice and are now starting to meet at bus stations or green spaces to rehearse: “I can see a growing determination in their eyes,” ends Achouri with a glimmer of hope.
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