Fostering Common Ground

Nov 16, 2017

Steph Duff

“Here, sister.”

“Try to hit this one, sister.”

“There you go!”

“You did it!”

Expressions of encouragement and gentle instruction could be heard all around the team house on India Hope Campus. Large Carrom boards were on the marbled floor, groups of four circled around them. Carrom, a ‘strike and pocket’ game of Eastern origin, is similar to billiards and table shuffleboard. It is a favorite among the children on campus. Teams of two take turns striking a large, checker-like piece across a wooden board. The aim to knock smaller pieces into one of four corner pockets.

A small mission team visited the India Hope Campus recently. They were visiting for the first time and had never played Carrom. Seeing a unique opportunity for each child to become the teacher, staff members created a tournament, pairing up children with visitors.

Then the games began!

Play with a purpose is one way Back2Back offers care. Research reinforces that play can be more than just fun, it can also be educational, allowing each child to develop emotionally and socially. Each child paired with a team member had the opportunity to help their teammate understand the rules and ultimate goal of the game.

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Swathi, an older girl on campus, sat across from her partner, Jamie. “Okay, sister,” she said, before detailing how best to hit pieces into the pockets. It is easy to miss the target, but when someone finally succeeds, there is reason to celebrate! Swathi looked across the board at Jamie, pointing to the piece easiest to push to the corner. Jamie lowered her hand onto the edge of the board and softly struck. Her target piece landed swiftly at its destination. “Yes!” she cried out. “Good job, sister!” Swathi high-fived her across the board.

Congratulatory conversations could be heard throughout the tournament, proving adults can still learn from children. Each child exhibited patience and joy at being able to share a beloved game with new friends.

Play with a purpose helps foster common ground so relationships develop and confidence grows. Following the Carrom tournament, the children gathered in small groups to make bean bags with the team. Team members gently guided the children to stitch fabric as they sealed their beanbags. This is just one way the children at the India Hope Campus are learning the give and take of relationship. Everyone comes to the table with something to learn and something to offer. Regardless of age, their experience matters.

Steph Duff is a writer, daughter, sister, and really loud laugher. By day she lends her voice on behalf of orphaned and vulnerable children with Back2Back Ministries. By night she is readily found with her nose in a book and spending time with her dachshund, Addy. At all hours, she can be found consuming copious amounts of coffee. She feels most herself in the heat of India and prefers her mugs big, her books long, and her words intentional.

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