“Safe Park” is Power of Love’s community outreach program and is free and open to all children in the community of Matero, in Lusaka, Zambia. Program activities are held on Saturday mornings and any child from the community can join us in play and learning. Most children in this community are vulnerable and/or orphans; they live with extended families, grandmothers or older siblings and face hunger, disease, abuse and neglect. They do not have a safe space to play, or an opportunity to express their concerns.
A Typical “Safe Park” Morning
A typical Saturday morning starts with the children gathering around in a circle and participating in games with other children and staff members. Some of the Zambian games the children engage in are described below. This is followed by the children being separated into groups according to their ages. The younger children engage in drawing, coloring, playing with blocks, toys, and dolls, while the older children attend short workshops on HIV, STI’s and safe sex. Most workshops are led by older children who have graduated from Power of Love’s pediatric HIV care program, or children who want to share their experiences with peers/younger children. Some children bring their reports cards from school to share their progress with our team. Homework help is also provided. At the conclusion of these group activities and workshops the children are provided with a snack before they leave for home. Family members of the children are welcome to join in the games and activities.
During the morning’s activities, our health care team observes the children for any signs of trauma, stress, grief or abuse and provides counseling to the child and family members.
Zambian Games Played
There are several Zambian games that the children play and enjoy. In addition to having fun while being physically active, most games teach children to run away or keep safe from danger, report potential danger to a trusted family member, and follow instructions at home or school. A brief description of the games is given below.
Mulilo pa lupili (fire on the mountain): Everyone is a given a number from 1-5 and gather in a circle. One person stands in the middle of the circle and says, ‘mulilo pa lupili’ (fire on the mountain). The rest of the group answers ‘mulilo’ meaning ‘fire.’ The children disperse in a chaotic fashion and try to locate others with the same number. Anyone found without a group is out of the game.
Gogo na gogo (meaning assisting or helping one another in time of trouble or need): Children sit down in a circle and pass a stone rapidly to the next person while singing, “gogo na gogo”. The purpose of this game is to teach children to be alert and help one another.
Chizugulu, Chizugulu Tiye (going around): The song, ‘chizugulu, chizugulu tiye”, is sung while everyone is in a circle holding hands. Holding hands and singing they start going clockwise or anti-clockwise. While going clockwise or anti- clockwise, the children kneel and stand up alternately. The game requires concentration, reduces stress and is fun. It fosters friendships with peers.
I Pick the Ball: All participants are in a circle and one is in the middle singing “I pick the ball, I pick the ball, I put it here, pepeta, pepeta.’’ Pepeta means, “to shake the body” while kicking the ball. While singing, the person gives instructions (shake the body, dance etc.) using the ball and everyone has to follow these instructions. When the person inside the circle is done, he/she points at someone else who then comes to the middle, sings and gives instructions. This is repeated till everyone has been in the center of the circle at least once.
Children from the community participate in these games enthusiastically and come back each week as they enjoy interacting with others.
Thank you for giving the gift of play and learning to orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia.