A Day of Fun!
“Readdddy …. One, two, three …. Go!”
Twenty children started jumping up-and-down all at once, trying to get hold of the chocolate cake tied on the rope above their heads. “No hands! No hands!” “Higher, higher!” The peers around them cheered.
The air is hot, dry and dusty inside the Children Friendly Space. There are crowd of neighbors trying to sneak a peek between the bamboo-meshed walls.
“Can our children also join?” the teacher, who runs a similar Children’s Learning Center next door approached us. “This is a very rare opportunity that the kids can have entertainment. Can they also come in and join?” There are not many entertainments inside the refugee camp. Many of the children answered that their favorite thing to do is to play with friends. The refugee camp is congested, and there are not many play ground where the children can play.
“Yes, join us!” was our answer. More crowd of girls and boys, their eyes sparkling with excitement poured into the Child Friendly Space. “Come and wait in the line. Our next game will be the Musical ball!”
On February 14th, Peace Winds Japan organized a Day of Fun event at Camp 15 Ward 5 Children’s Friendly Space (CFS). Total of 147 children aged between 5 to 14 years have participated in this half-day program.
We started off our event with a puppet show. The story is about every life of a boy and a girl and their friend bird, playing hide-and-seek and Kabaddi, enjoying their time in the refugee camp. Along the way, they are taught how to wash their hands and brush their teeth by the sun and the moon. “You must wash your hands after using the bathroom!” The sun, played by the Health Assistant tells the children. “All good children shall wash their hands!” The children watch the puppet show intently, with their mouths wide open. “Did you enjoy the show?” At the end of the performance, Khairul, the Field Manager asked. “Yes!” the children shouted. “Do you remember what is the important thing to do?” “Wash hands after using bathroom!” “Very good!”
Then we moved on to the games. We had “Bread eating race” (Each player jumps and try to catch the cake without using hand that is hanging on a string),
“Musical ball” (Pass the ball in circle while the music is playing), “Throwing ball in a basket” (Each players throws a ball in a basket 5 times. Those who could put the most ball in the basket wins), and “Spoon balance” (Each player places a spoon with marble in his/her mouth and walk across the room).
At the end of the games, prizes (“A mini car!” “A helicopter!”) were giving for 1st, 2nd, 3rd comers for each games, and the balls used for the game were donated to the CFS.
What do the children do in the camp?
Mohammed Yesor (age 11) said he likes to play with friends, but there is nothing much he can play with. The Child Friendly Space (CFS) is open for the children from Sunday to Thursday, where over 100 children comes to play with Kherram (board game), rocking horse, and with other toys provided by the CFS. The teacher Mohammed Yousuf said many of the children comes to CFS regularly, because they can meet their friends and teacher here. “At home their parents are often busy and the children have nothing to do.”. Jasminballa (7 years old) said she wants to be a teacher. When asked why, she said she wants to be a teacher like her teacher at CFS. For many of the children, it is the first time for them to be coming to CFS, a place similar to school. Growing up in Myanmar, we can imagine that they did not have the opportunity to learn, and to go freely outside of their home. There are many other children who also said they want to be a teacher when they are grown up, because they see their teachers every day at CFS. At the end of the event, we have presented the CFS with the balls we used for the game. The teachers received the balls with thanks, and said that “the children will love to play with balls, and we hope we can organize a similar event in the future again”
“What is your favorite food?”
“What is your favorite food?” PWJ staff Shimu Chakma asked the children. “Cake!” “Cake!” “Cake!” “My favorite food is chocolate cake!” were the answer. Shimu tried again. “How about Apple? Juice? Vegetable curry? Chicken meat? How about mango?” “No, no, no I like cake! I like cake like this one!”
For the bread eating race, we used the chocolate – filled sponge cake as a treat. It was a very rare occasion for those children to have such sweet treat. Looking around in the refugee camp, you see small tea stalls, and general shops that sells small commodities. Small packets of flavored dry green peas, packets of sunflower seeds, cob of corns are common snacks among children.
“Many children will remember our chocolate cake for a long time.” Shimu said. “The best snack for them until now was a slice of bread with jam. Now, chocolate cake became their favorite food”.
It is a struggle for children’s family to have a proper meal in the camp. There was a man selling sugarcane sticks. Besides him, there was a half-empty sack. When I observed him from a distance, I could see that there are handful of people who approach him to buy the sugarcane stick. One person approached him with cup full of raw rice. The sugarcane seller received the rice, put it inside the sack beside him, and hand the customer two pieces of sugarcane. Besides the staples such as rice, pulse, oil, and salt are rationed regularly, fresh vegetables, spices, meat and fruits are a luxury. Like the sugarcane vendor and his customer, it is a common practice to barter the rationed item to something else. Having a snack, let alone a chocolate cake, is very special. As the Day of Fun was organized on Valentine’s Day, we have made a packed snack gift to each children. The pack contained a piece of Jujube (fruit), 2 buns, wafers, chocolate cake and a mango juice.
Having participated in a fun event, with a gift to bring back home, was indeed a special event for each and every child.
The Day of Fun event was filled with laughter, freedom, fun and surprises. Peace Winds Japan team would like to whole heartedly thank those individuals who made this special day happen for the children at Hakimpara Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
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