Our Tranzsend workers engage in a variety of different ministries across the communities we serve. One type of ministry that appeals to children across countries and people groups, is play. Below are two accounts of why the simple concept of children playing is important in both a South Asian context, and a South-East Asian context.
Carol: South Asia
We have started the community play space, a play based environment, to counter local schooling methods. Most of the local schooling is dictated and copied. There is no room for free thinking, students simply recite what the teacher has told them. Play based learning encourages children to think creatively, be resourceful, and use things in different ways. When we first started, children were playing one dimensionally. They would only use toys for their intended purpose or in the way we had set them up. For example when we first started, the green fabric under the doll houses couldn’t be moved it, it needed to stay where it was. Now it’s used to create a hut between the table and the kitchen counters. In the week before we closed due to Coronavirus, children started making their own masks using paper. One day we ran out of staples for the stapler. Instead of giving up, my friend looked around for what else she could use – a hole punch and some string to tie it together! Creative thinking, being resourceful and persevering are all things we learn through play and creativity. Through play, if something doesn’t work the first time, we look for solutions, we adapt, we try something else. We want to encourage this creative resiliance within our community.
Robyn: South East Asia
Near our house, in the community we serve, there are a number of families with children. Our children play with these kids. Initially, they would play together with balls and bikes on the small lane each evening. One day, our kids invited their new friends to come play at our house. We set up a room with toys, blocks, and colouring in activities, and outside we have a trampoline, basketball, and soccer ball they can play with. We soon regularly had around 10-15 children come over to play in the evenings after school. This started informally, but we soon realised the importance of providing opportunities and space for them to play. In this country, children learn in formal classrooms by rote learning. We wanted to encourage creativity and freedom to choose how and what to play with at our house. Nearly all of the children in our neighbourhood live with their older grandparents. Some of them live with just their mum or grandmother, and therefore they have no adult male role model at home. These kids particularly enjoy interacting and playing with Josh, for example by kicking the soccer ball around together. We have enjoyed getting to know the children, talking with them, encouraging them, and meeting their families.