Most children grow up with toys, including cuddly animals and rattles of various types, and they progress to more complex toys that challenge their motor skills and imagination. But what if you live in poverty and you don’t even have a warm blanket at night or daily food? Do toys matter when your basic needs are not met?
According to many world experts, toys and therapeutic play can make a big impact in the lives of vulnerable children because these kids often become disabled by their circumstances. Namibia’s Meke Imbili will tell you a child’s well-being improves when they are busy and active through play. Meke is the Coordinator for National Early Childhood Development (NECD) in Windhoek, and someone who has seen firsthand the difference play can make. Meke and her colleagues, Magnaem Haufiku and Batseba Elago, recently launched a toy lending library at Family of Hope Services in Havana, Katutura. This library will provide the means and environment in which marginalized children in the area can play and grow.
“I can assure you that more than half of the children who attend the toy lending library will improve their social interaction and be happier and more creative,” Meke told the group of children, guardians, and community leaders in attendance. “The toys and tools we are providing are designed to support your child’s skill development and imagination, and to cover all stages of growth and development. You can even make your own toys at home from waste materials and this is something that we encourage you to do in addition to using the library,” said Meke as she held up a paper roll from toilet paper that had been painted and designed for play.
NECD is an association and implementation agency that addresses early childhood development needs in Namibia. NECD is working on behalf of Terre des hommes German who is the sponsor for the toy lending library project and who is paying for all of the lending libraries in Namibia. NECD will work with Family of Hope Services to implement the project on behalf of TDH Germany. The toys and games were on display for everyone to see the wide variety of tools that will be available for caregivers to borrow and take home.
According to Sarah Cossa, Namibia’s Project Coordinator with Terre des hommes Germany and the catalyst behind this most recent project at Family of Hope Services, toy lending libraries prove to be very successful in helping children build self-confidence and resilience. “By coming to the Centre in Havana and participating in play with the coordinators, children will learn how to explore and problem-solve. They will learn how to actively engage and to better understand their inner selves which is important in building self-confidence,” Sarah said. “Play allows a child to explore and discover and to be free to be who they are at that moment in time. It can ease the level of anxiety we experience when we don’t feel whole or intact.”
Abigail Bachopi, the Founder and Director of Family of Hope Services, noted that the staff of the Centre have been trained to facilitate the learning of children coming to the toy lending library to play, and to help caregivers learn how to stimulate their child’s development when they take the toys home. Abigail and her staff will also work with the children’s caregivers and the local community to help promote the importance of play in healthy child development within the area.
The toy lending library at Family of Hope Services in Havana, Katututa, is one of six libraries being established by NECD and Terre des hommes Germany within Namibia. The other libraries are located in Grysblok, Oponganda Community Centre, two in the Oshikoto region, one in Khorixas and one in Outjo.
Toys can be borrowed from the library and taken home for a short time. Staff will give advice to the caregivers on how to get the maximum benefit from the use of the toys. The toys are borrowed and returned to the library in the same way that books are borrowed and returned in conventional libraries. The toys are sterilized in between use.
If you have any toys, stuffed animals, board games, books and other learning tools, we would be grateful for the donation at the Family of Hope Services centre to add to this new toy lending library.
For more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For our partner contacts and information:
Terre des hommes Germany: http://www.tdh-southern-africa.org
Contact information for the National Early Childhood Development NGO: Mrs. Batseba L.V. Elago, Administrative Secretary, 061 247423.