By Saima Hassan, Director- Director Development and Communications, OBAT Helpers Inc.
Nothing irks me more than seeing my two children glued to the computer or television on a perfectly beautiful day. If a day like that falls on one of those rare days when my calendar is without a dot, I try to do whatever I can to prevent an electronic device from being in front of them, for miles. At other times, when I can’t play a more participatory role, I beg and cajole them to ride their bikes or just go out, run around and play. They are lucky to have the choice to play indoors or outside or to play at all.
“Some of these kids just don’t have time to play as they have to help their parents earn a living. But some others do play.”
The theme for the Spirit & Place Festival 2012 was “Play.” My role at my workplace, OBAT Helpers, a nonprofit, involves helping hundreds of children, thousands of miles away, in a third world country survive and thrive. For these kids, television and computers are not within their realm of thinking. They would be happy just to have something to eat or to be able to go to school or just have enough clothes on their bodies. My thoughts are usually focused on numbers, how many meals we need to provide, how many classes need to be constructed, how to find donors who would be willing to pay for their books and stationery. I never gave a lot of thought to what these kids do after school. Do they or can they play?
“These kids show that rich or poor, our spirits need some time for play.”
Some of these kids just don’t have time to play as they have to help their parents earn a living. But some others do play. They play cricket on the streets, with bats made out of pieces of wood and balls made out of old rags; marbles in the dirty, narrow alleys where they live; they dress up dolls which look as grubby as themselves for a mock wedding ceremony. They try to make playgrounds out of the main streets, wake up early to beat pedestrian and other traffic so they can get a couple of hours of play time.
These kids show that rich or poor, our spirits need some time for play. Let’s make sure we all do!