By Adriana Ermter with Aasma Qamer
“I never knew games could teach me so many things,” says 14-year-old Khushboo, from Takht Bhai, a small town in Pakistan known for its Buddhist monasteries. “Before I joined Right To Play, I had no purpose in my life. I used to think, but without feelings for others, without understanding the pain of others”.
That was until Khushboo met Right To Play coach Fehmida and joined the play-based program she runs.
“Coach Fehmida helped boost my confidence and my level of motivation,” explains Khushboo. “She has continuously mentored me and provided me guidance.”
Coach Fehmida says that when Khushboo first joined Right To Play, the young girl struggled with confidence, self-awareness and the ability to engage with her peers. She also lacked self-trust, so feared playing freely with the other children. Recognizing this, Fehmida sought Khushboo out.
“I try to pay equal attention to all of the children and win their trust through polite, encouraging and motivational behaviour,” explains Fehmida. “Sometimes though, I need to give a little extra affection and attention to the children who need more inclusion and engagement.”
Equipped with Right To Play training, Fehmida responded to Khushboo’s needs by creating a safe environment and a sense of belonging by sitting with her and asking questions about her day, family and school, each week. Slowly, as the young girl grew more comfortable she began sharing her thoughts and feelings with the coach. Their regular, everyday interaction formed a bond built on mutual trust and respect, self-expression and self-understanding. As Khushboo’s confidence grew, so did her willingness to participate uninhibitedly in the program activities.
While our coaches like Fehmida conduct program activities, they also play a crucial role in mentoring and building the personalities of the children. This engagement positively influences the children, inspiring and motivating them to participate. Playing the games empowers them with new skills, like teamwork and leadership, along with the space to think and act independently, elevating their confidence and trust in themselves.
Now, Khushboo has blossomed and is a is a Right To Play junior leader, leading and encouraging other children to participate in the program’s games.
“Coach Fehmida taught me the real meaning of life and helped me have a purpose,” says Khushboo. “She was more than my teacher; she is my best friend. She listens to me and offers me the best advice, whenever I need it. She made me what I am today. Now, it is my responsibility to help others in need because I have learnt empathy.”
In 2015, Right To Play launched the Play for the Advancement of Quality Education (PAQE) program with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada. Active in eight countries including Pakistan, PAQE uses Right To Play's experiential learning methodology to build teacher capacity and remove barriers to education to improve learning outcomes.