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To play or not to play.......

The above photo was taken on one of our play and experiential day. These are days where we leave the formal classrooms and counseling rooms to go out, mostly out of Majengo, to play while we learn. These days have become days that we guard so jealously here at Ubani. This is because we have come to see and appreciate the impact of play to our girls.

Working in our context always exposes us to things some of us take (or took) for granted. Growing up, play was the norm as much as we would help around the house. My mum would release the house helps during the school holidays so that they could take a break from work but also so that we could learn to do chores around the house. This, however, did not ever deter us from play. And living in an almost gated community, which was safe and everyone knew everyone, it is mostly darkness that would make us go back to our homes.

This however was different for many, if not most of the girls at Ubani. Many were forced to work from a really early age outside the home in order to supplement family income. Some who have been children heading homes (either due to death, neglect and abandonment, drug and substance abuse of parents) were forced to take up caretaking roles, which hindered them from being children to even appreciate play.

This has presented a great challenge for us as we work with them. Since we incorporate therapies that include play, sports and art, many of them consider these therapies as though they are childish and a waste of time. This is mostly usually evident during the first few months of the the program. Many times you will see hesitation from the girls in participating in the activities.

This has not deterred us from creating and encouraging opportunities for play for the girls. With time, they embrace play and it usually gives us so much joy to see them loosen up, sometimes discovering their passion and gifting. The activities we incorporate sometimes include 'kati' dodgeball, skipping rope, 'bladder', dance, swimming, basketball, board games, hiking, poetry, music, drawing and painting, colouring and other team building activities.

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