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CFCA stories

Traditional games cost little but provide rich benefits

March 9, 2010

Jose, sponsored youth from Honduras
Jose from the Santa Barbara project in Honduras plays
marbles with his friends after he finishes his homework
and chores.

Each day after school, Jose, 15, of the Santa Barbara project in Honduras, can’t wait to finish his homework and house chores.

Then he’s free to walk a short distance from his home to the small plaza in front of his school where he meets his friends for a game of marbles.

In one version of the game, they draw a triangle on the ground and trace a horizontal line nearby. Each player shoots a marble toward the horizontal line. The player with the closest marble goes first, second closest shoots next and so on.

The object of the game is to win as many of the colorful marbles as possible by knocking them out of the triangle. Another game is called el puyo.

Marbles is a game easily accessible to sponsored members like Jose because the cost is very low. He can buy a marble for 2 cents and play in the field in front of the school for free.

Children learn the game from older brothers and sisters, relatives or neighbors and often start playing at the age of 5.

A CFCA social worker in the Santa Barbara project, Ramon Antonio Pineda, said games such as marbles are much more than a way to pass the time.

“Traditional games help the child in a great way,” he said. “They learn and put into practice new abilities and develop skills. At the same time they strengthen their emotional state by spending moments concentrated on their game and socializing with the other children.”

Pineda cited other advantages of traditional games:
• The children learn creative ways to solve problems, which can be a valuable asset in the future by allowing them to relate to other people in comfortable ways.
• An essential element of the child’s culture remains intact and is transmitted to future generations.

Pineda said such games allow the mental development, relaxation and entertainment of children and youth while at the same time building a sense of community. The children have fun near home, fostering good family relationships.

“At the end of the day, Jose is very happy because he won some new marbles in the game,” Pineda said. “He is ready to go back home for dinner and a good night’s sleep with the promise of his friends coming back tomorrow to the same place, at the same time, to play once again with the marbles.”

Dan Pearson, project director for CFCA international operations, said recreation is an important form of enrichment for everyone’s life.

“Because their families have limited economic resources, sponsored children must be creative in their search for healthy recreation,” Pearson said. “When I talk with sponsored children about their favorite aspects of the program, they often mention things like sports camps, games and annual field trips.

“Sometimes CFCA’s recreational programs are the only forms of organized recreation the kids have an opportunity to experience.”

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