Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Posted in Pakistan on Monday, January 23, 2006
By Amber Johnson, Metro Marketing
& Communications Director for New York

A rousing game of "Duck, Duck, Goose" may not seem like therapy to the outsider, but for nine-year-old Nimra and other children like her, a good game can go a long way to making life feel a little more normal. Continued below.

Children at one of World Vision's "Child Friendly Spaces" play a game of blindfold hide 'n seek.

I met Nimra this morning at one of World Vision’s Child Friendly Spaces (CFS). A CFS is a place where young earthquake survivors can sing, laugh and play. World Vision staffers provide games to increase self-confidence, help children express their emotions and begin to move past the horrors of the quake.

Nimra is an outgoing girl who seems at ease in her environment. But when her school reopened after the earthquake, Nimra was afraid to leave her mother and aunt. Though no one in her elementary school was killed, 287 girls died at the high school near Nimra’s house when the concrete roof collapsed.

Nimra began attending World Vision’s CFS, which operates just a short distance from the tent her family now occupies. Playing at the CFS helped Nimra become more comfortable being away from her home; as she came to enjoy time with her friends she was less frightened to return to school. Now, Nimra’s mother is happy to report, she is back in school and doing well.

World Vision operates 15 CFS's in the earthquake zone, serving about 700 children each weekday. One girl I played with today, 11-year-old Zainab, took a ring off her finger and slid it onto mine as we were parting. I protested, but she insisted I keep the gift. I was uncertain what to do, so I spoke with Noor, my World Vision Pakistan colleague.

“It is good that you keep the gift,” Noor told me. “These children feel emotions strongly and she is learning to express them by giving you this ring.”

For Nimra and Zainab, World Vision’s Child Friendly Space offers a safe place to test new emotions and deal with fear and anger, the earthquake’s residue. That’s quite an accomplishment for a simple game of "Duck, Duck, Goose!"

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