Traveller women take to the stage at the Abbey Theatre

Pavee Point’s Primary Health Care workers spent this week at the Abbey Theatre developing the inspiring story of their work through drama, story and song. (Photos by Derek Speirs)

This was a great opportunity to bring to life the struggles involved in being part of a project that has changed the face of healthcare for Travellers.

Twenty five years ago Traveller women decided action was needed to improve Traveller health.  Their community’s needs had been neglected long enough.

They were told Travellers couldn’t do this work.  But, they kept on going when the powers that be said no.

Pavee Point’s community development approach ensured this story is one of empowerment and participation for Traveller women.  It’s about Travellers identifying the issues to be addressed and  participating fully in implementing responses.

The first Primary Health Care for Travellers’ Project was established as a joint partnership initiative with the Eastern Health Board and Pavee Point in 1994.

Working with facilitator Kathleen Warner Yeates the Primary Health Care Workers, this week,  worked out what were the important elements of their story to bring out.

Rosaleen McDonagh, playwright at the Abbey 5×5 event.

It was an intense week at the Abbey deciding what should stay in and how the story should be told.  Everyone got fully involved.

The women’s determination and passion shone through in their performance at the end of the week.  They described the painstaking research that had to be done to bring to light the poor health status of Travellers.  They acted out the issues they face in their work day to day.

They told the story of lives saved … and lives lost.  Constant throughout was storytelling and singing.

This fantastic experience was part of the Abbey 5×5 project which focuses on bringing underrepresented groups onto the Abbey stages.

(L to R) Abbey Artistic Director Graham McLaren; Missie Collins, Pavee Point Primary Health Care Project; Anastasia Crickely Chairperson Pavee Point and Ronnie Fay Co Director, Pavee Point.