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puppets-on-a-string in a humanitarian context

Republic of South Sudan (Nutrition/MSF), Sri Lanka (Tsunami-Relief-Work/Independent), Democratic Republic of Congo (IDP/MSF), Democratic Republic of Chad (Cholera Emergency/MSF)

All pictures taken by Stefan Birckmann/© Stefan Birckmann

Republic of South Sudan

Video:  South Sudan - Mr. Tom "Lane Male"

"Lane Male" says in Nuer Language: 

"Say Hello, Good Morning, Good Day…"

The song was sung at first before the health educational program had been conducted and was a kind of "ice-breaker". 

"Mr. Tom" was "in charge" as a health educator and communicator. Mama Elisabeth was the composer of the song.

The song was sung by "Mr. Tom" at the end of every health program. It was always BIG FUN and helped to build good vibes and relationship in between all who participated at the ambulatory feeding program.

The video was recorded by my fellow colleague Charlotte from Canada during a MSF mission in the Republic of South Sudan in July 2014 and, is released by permission of MSF.

Published by

Sri Lanka

Video: Tsunami Relief Work

It was twelve years ago today that Stefan told the puppeteers to play...   

Healing the invisible wounds with beauty and laughter was the basic idea. This is a rare document of recent traditional ceylonese puppetry as well, of the time when Stefan conducted as an independent volunteer "The-Road-Show-of-Hope" for the tsunami victims of Sri Lanka. His road show lasted two and a half years. Saranga Puppet Society, Sri Anura Puppet Society and later formed "MANGOFRIENDS PUPPET SOCIETY" were on the road all over the devastated coastlines of the island - from the South to the North, from the East to the West. 

Former volunteer James Ellis said: "I can’t remember the kids laughing so much so short a time after the tragedy." 


Thanks to DPA(Danish People Aid) who sponsored this particular show.

Produced 2005 by Steve Brick (Stefan Birckmann)/© Stefan Birckmann

Language: Sinhala (no subtitle) 

Released by

Democratic Republik of Congo

Video: Papa Paul - Nawa Mikono

This little song, conducted with Puppets-on-a-String, turned out to be "a country classic". Because of the children the message was spread into the jungle, villages and pretty remote areas of East-Congo's province of Katanga.

Nawa Mikono - Wash your hand for your health, against cholera and other diseases - sung by Papa Paul and Mama Risiki, performed for the MSF project, 2011.

I always felt privileged to work together with Papa Paul who is such a gifted and kind man. Grand Merci, Papa Paul!

Next WHO's Globalhandwashing-Day - October 15th. The video is released by permission of MSF and, published by

Democratic Republic of Chad

Video: Sister Merci: Yok to bo go, Mailawe

"Wash you hands, Mailawe, against Cholera. Wash your hands for your health". Yok to Bo Go - This song was conducted during an MSF emergency project responding to cholera in the Republic of Chad at the border to Cameroon. "Mama Mailawe" was a puppet on a string which was built by a local artist especially for the project.The puppet was animated by the nurse Merci who also created the song.

The video is released by permission of MSF. Published by


Stefan Birckmann

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