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Projects From Around the World

PEN Zambia's indigenous language creative writing workshops

Our PEN Centres and their writers are running empowerment through literature and access to education projects around the world. In 2018, 27,551 young people, writers, journalists, academics, teachers, parents, community members and human rights activists engaged in spaces created by PEN Centres. Watch a short film about the civil society programme here

Argentina - PEN Argentina has delivered creative writing workshops in informal settlements and youth incarceration centres in Buenos Aires. The workshops provide the young participants with an appreciation of the written and spoken word, as well as giving them the tools to develop a deeper sense of self-worth through language.

Bosnia - PEN Bosnia and Herzegovina has been using literature and linguistic studies as a bridge to connect young people aged 17 to 24 from divided and fragmented communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH). The project aims to address existing divides between different communities in post-war BIH. You can hear from the young people involved in the project by watching this video.

Central AsiaCentral Asia PEN carried out a programme of visiting lectures in universities in North and Southern Kyrgyzstan and in Tajikistan. In continuation of Central Asia’s previous programme of summer schools, the visiting lectures brought different cultures together and equipped students with an understanding of their human rights and a love of literature.

Eritrea - PEN Eritrea in Exile, formed in 2013, has used its civil society seed funding to grow its membership, reach Eritreans across the globe, and to gain credibility as an authoritative voice on freedom of expression issues for NGOs, civil society actors and the media.  Having built a platform for Eritrean voices, with their CSP second grant awarded in August 2018, the Centre is focusing on empowering these voices to tell their stories. PEN Eritrea has been providing one-to-one mentoring to exiled Eritreans and will be running creative writing workshops in Uganda, Israel and, digitally, in Europe where they have strong membership presence, aiming to empower Eritrean refugee writers by providing editorial and moral support.

Ghana- PEN Ghana leads 72 PEN Youth Clubs (PYC) across the country, all set up in the ten years that the project has been running. Eight new PYCs were introduced in 2016 and 2017.  The school clubs aim to teach basic writing skills and increase awareness of human rights and social responsibilities.

Guinea - PEN Guinea has been running school clubs in a number of schools for several years now. The school clubs aim to encourage children to read and write, and to promote literature within education. Eventually PEN Guinea would like to see this kind of attention to literature extended to mainstream education.

Honduras - PEN Honduras is creating spaces for free expression through literary workshops for the students of the National Autonomous University in Honduras.

Hong Kong - To promote bilingual creative writing by young writers, PEN Hong Kong is curating a collection of work by university students.

Iraq - Kurdish PEN has been holding creative writing workshops for young people and women in five Ezidie Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps across Kurdistan Region in Iraq, with the aim of amplifying their voices to fight stigmas and stereotypes associated with Ezidie culture and build understanding and empathy to enhance peace and togetherness within the society.

Lebanon - PEN Lebanon ran theatre workshops and holding open readings, bringing displaced Syrian and Palestinian writers and their literature into the local Lebanese community around Beirut in order to build cohesion, dialogue and networks across cultures.

Malawi - PEN Malawi runs school workshops on creative writing in response to stagnating government response to developing and promoting indigenous languages in Malawi, which affects people’s access to education and information. PEN Malawi has been reaching out to new communities, through women’s groups and PEN Clubs in areas where women and girls are exceptionally marginalised and in youth detention centres.

Mexico- PEN Piensa is a digital platform which collects the stories of journalists and writers who have been killed, the voices of those who have lived to tell their story and confront the reality of their country, as well as the paths of those who live in exile. Read the blog here.

Myanmar - PEN Myanmar focuses its project on capacity building of the Centre and the promotion of literature. The Centre is running a series of creative writing workshops and advocacy training to amplify the voice of writers to affect change specifically in relation to issues affecting the freedom of expression climate in Myanmar. You can watch short film about PEN Myanmar's work here.

Nicaragua - PEN Nicaragua is running a series of public lectures and small workshops around literary and critical journalism aimed at building the capacity of independent journalists, writers and bloggers.

Philippines - Philippine PEN has been building on its previous civil society work with the programme ‘The Healing PEN II’, with the aim of addressing the current concerns around mother-language education and literature in the country.

Sierra Leone - PEN Sierra Leone has been running its School Club project for nearly 10 years, this year expanding its programme to 20 further schools across the country. The PEN Youth Clubs (PYCs) consist of literary and debating activities, and in addition the Centre organises PYC Regional Literary Evening events. Watch a short film about PEN Sierra Leone's project here.

South Africa- PEN South Africa has worked with the Nal’ibali reading for enjoyment campaign since 2012.

South Africa - PEN Afrikaans was running creative writing workshops in rural areas of South Africa, where literacy levels are low. Through workshops and mentoring the Centre helped to change the perception of Afrikaans as the language of the oppressor, by sharing the stories of rural, black Afrikaans communities.

Togo- PEN Togo used its grant to successfully break into the Togolese literary landscape, with its innovative and popular creative writing workshops for young people. It will be continuing and expanding its project in 2019. The Centre has been focusing on supporting young writers by linking them up with established Togolese authors, organising ‘master classes’ and writing workshops in schools in the capital Notsè. The project is soon to be expanded to other regions of the country.

Uganda- PEN Uganda is running creative workshops for prisoners in some of the highest security male and female prisons in the country. The aim of the project is to support inmates to produce high quality creative work as a form of rehabilitation. Watch a short film about PEN Uganda's work here.

Wales - Wales PEN Cymru’s project aims to improve Civil Society in Wales by supporting the Kurdish communities through creative writing workshops and performances. Read more about the project here. Hear from the women involved in the project here.

Zambia - PEN Zambia has been running workshops in schools promoting creative writing and speaking in indigenous languages. Watch a short film about PEN Zambia's project here.

Zimbabwe - In 2016 and 2017, PEN Zimbabwe was re-established as a voice on literature and freedom of expression issues through literary festivals, events and partnerships.

We were able to organise a space for transforming the way school children now think about social issues [serving as the] informal training ground that could showcase their writing prowess and enhance the potential of young PEN members graduating from the school clubs to become more confident and effective writers, thinkers, public speakers and leaders in our society

PEN Sierra Leone’s School Club project