10 August 2018

Two tales about the power of play, Pakistan

Additional Info

  • VAWG themes: VAWG & education, VAWG & social norms
  • Country: Pakistan
  • Project: Right to Play - Pakistan

She knows now that she is something… she values herself

12-year-old Mahnoor – clad in a simple blue and white uniform with the usual head-scarf -skipped home happily after a regular day at school in Hyderabad, Pakistan. With mundane thoughts of school and homework on her mind, she did not focus on the shadow closing in behind her. It was only when a rough hand grabbed her from behind the neck dragging her towards a deserted, dead-ended alley, does Mahnoor realize that she is being assaulted. Realizing the stranger’s ill-intent, Mahnoor snapped out of her reverie, and fought back. Kicking, biting, screaming – she continued her struggle eventually managing to break free from her assailant, and sprint home.

A few weeks later, in one of the Play Days organized by Right To Play, Mahnoor’s mother took center stage in the proceedings. Despite the conservative setting, Mahnoor’s mother daringly recounted the story of her daughter’s assault and her fight back, heralding her courage and bravery in the midst of adversity. “She knows now that she is something”, her mother proclaims. “She values herself – and has learned to protect herself because of this”.

Mahnoor’s mother further credited the power of play in teaching her daughter strength, self-awareness and resilience in mind and body, to be able to manage her emotions, react in time, and protect herself from the attacker. She is part of the international NGO’s Right to Play (RTP) programme, a DFID funded programme, which uses the transformative power of play to build essential life skills, ideas of gender equity and prevent violence among children. Parents if other kids in the programme agree that their daughters too had shown massive improvements in confidence, and increased self-reliance ever since they had started playing regularly in school.

With teamwork and co-ordination, we all won

Mohammad Sadique, a 13-year-old student at Government Boys Higher Secondary Comprehensive School, Hyderabad, was notorious among his school fellows for his bossy and bullying attitude. Having few or no friends at school, he used to mock other children. His teachers were irritated by his attitude in both the classroom and the playground. Even during international NGO’s Right to Play (RTP) activities, he would cause disturbances, greatly upsetting the coach and his classmates.

Reprimanding him never worked, so the coach employed a new approach; he started conducting games sessions with a particular focus on respect for others, cooperation, team building, and tolerance. Additionally, he started giving Sadique the responsibility to help lead the activities. This strategy seemed to work, and allowed Sadique a chance to be responsible, and in a position of leadership, where respect given was respect earned.

On International Women's Day 2016, the coach encouraged Sadique to participate in a contest with the team. His team won first prize and when Sadique came on stage to receive the award, he acknowledged: “It was all team effort and coordination that we won.”

The teachers, schoolmates and the coach have observed that, while no easy task, Sadique has been trying to overcome his habit of dictating, teasing, and annoying others at school.
Sadique actively participates in play activities at school and responds quickly in Reflect‐Connect‐Apply (RCA), the experiential methodology of Right To Play. He says, “I enjoy supporting my Coach in leading warm‐ups and cool‐downs. I have also learnt that people pay you respect back when you give them respect first. My favorite part of the play activities is the RCA. I have learnt expressing my feelings and experiences through this discussion.”