Children in the poorest places of our planet rarely have the global awareness to think about change, whether it be changing their own lives or changing the world around them. It’s not just about a lack of opportunities and too few positive role models, they're living in a society that lacks sufficient policing of crime, often allowing gang violence to go uncontested. All around them many women are forced to submit to men, girls married off as teenagers for their dowries. The weak and disabled, children included, are treated without respect in a society that can serve them a cocktail of violence, neglect and subjugation, both in their schools and communities.
Dangerous slums and remote rural villages are neglected by most fund raisers and NGOs. Overlooked and forgotten these children are often discouraged to think about change, they naturally follow in the same footsteps of those around them, committed to continuing a cycle of stagnation, decay and social neglect.
But children everywhere can think about change, if given the tools to do so. The Butterfly Project aims to provide those tools. By using board games and role-playing games as a core part of their tool set they've already made change makers out of dozens of children in Uganda.
The process starts by locating the most selfless children in the most disadvantaged parts of Uganda that are interested in improving their communities. They live and work at a centre operated by The Butterfly Project, and whilst there they are trained to develop their vision, ethics, self-confidence, and leadership skills. Empathy is encouraged initially through specific local community action projects organised by The Butterfly Project, but then the children are invited to run their own projects to impact on nearby slum communities. The resources of the centre include DVDs, music, computers, sports equipment, games, film, video equipment, books, art and learning materials and even carpentry tools.
Through the years though the project has found that board games are a superb mechanism for teaching children useful basic skills, and role-playing games help the children to imagine a better future for them and their communities. Specialist ICT, social media, marketing and communication training is then taught in co-operation with local and international mentors and the children encouraged to create social entrepreneur programmes to fund an eventual placement at university. The Butterfly Project is developing a fund to support each child's business and even helping the children to design publishable boardgames so that they can self-finance their ultimate progression.
We're proud of our previous work in raising money for Childs Play. Over the years the convention has raised over $8,500 for it and put countless games and toys in to hospitals for sick children.
Looking to our future though, we wanted to work with a charity where we could make a real difference to childrens lives. Child's Play has raised many millions of dollars over the years and will continue to do so. It does great work, but very little of its work involves role-playing games.
When we discovered how The Butterfly Project was using board games and role-playing games to change children’s lives we were immediately blown away by what the charity does, and the access the charity gave us, inviting us to speak with the children and see for ourselves how The Butterfly Project has changed their lives.
The Butterfly Project are a small charity operating in Kampala, Uganda with a UK delivery address from a volunteer's home in the UK. This isn't a big multinational charity with sizeable resources, they are a small charity where every donation can make a huge positive impact to a lot of young and disadvantaged role-players.