Play for Peace with Abha Jeurkar
On 29th October 2016, Youth for Peace International, with the help of Ms. Abha Jeurkar hosted a ‘Play for Peace’ session for the kids at the Shaheenbagh (New Delhi) refugee camp, She an ex-engineer now a Certified Trainer for Play for Peace firmly believe in using the joy of cooperative play to create an atmosphere of laughter, compassion and peace with communities in conflict. As an added bonus Youth Alliance International’s Co-Founder Shah Imtiaz Hossain joined for the session. YFPI got acquainted with Ms. Abha and Mr. Imtiaz during the 5 day Training of Trainers session on Youth and Peacebuilding in Chandigarh from 18-22nd of October.
By 11:00 PM the team had already reached the camp and was having a quick meet and greet with the leaders of the camp. With the help of Mr. Osman ji (one of the leaders of the camp), we gathered as many children as we could to begin the workshop inside the little school in the camp. It’s interesting to note that some of the kids were reluctant to get involved because they were not Muslim and were afraid of getting cornered by the rest. The same situation was noticed during the Humor for Peace workshop as well.
The first step was to break the ice. Ms. Abha started with a simple exercise where she asked the kids to form a circle and mock her actions. It was a good way of determining the level of understanding of the kids so that she could decide on the next few games. It was evident that not everyone there understood her, but that’s where Mr. Imtiaz and Mr. Ali Johar played a crucial role.
Daardi wale baba, Hathi ka bacha, Watermelon, Aa rum sum sum, and Haryali were among the few games that were played. You could see the power word of mouth as after almost every game, 5-10 new kids joined in, and the circle that they initially formed kept getting bigger and bigger to the point where the room became too small.
One of the challenges for us while working with the refugees here was communication. Having Mr. Imtiaz and Mr. Ali Johar with us this time around was a totally different experience. We got more respect from the leaders because we brought people who spoke their language, so they must have felt homely. What was even more exciting to see was the reaction of the kids when they realized the same
A good 10% of the kids were too young to understand and play the games fully, but it was evident of the faces of the rest that they were having fun like they had not in a long time. That day we not only build rapport with the kids, but even the adults there saw the power of Play for Peace on the kids. Hence it must be noted that it was overall a great day for YFPI as peacebuilders for it was another stepping stone towards our end goal for the camps.
Here is a little side story from the same day:
Richa Gupta (Associate at YFPI) had an interesting conversation with a Rohingya individual (unfortunately I do not recall his name) living there that will make you realize that even though they were thrown out of their own nation and are living in squalor, they still are capable of self-sufficiency because they have the desire in them to rebuild their life. This individual works throughout the week to support his family, but on the weekends he takes carpentry lessons. He says he wants to learn English, because the carpentry course is in English and without English he is only able to understand in bits and pieces.
We at Youth for Peace International would like to thank Ms. Abha Jeurkar spending time with the kids at the Shaheenbagh camp. We have learned so much from you, and we hope to continue conducting such sessions regularly with the kids in all the camps.
Pictures: Kunal Raj