Interview with Laetitia in Banda Aceh
advertising officer

Adista Centers in Banda Aceh

I accompanied 2 members of CDE to Banda Aceh in February. I spent most of my time in Adista’s centers. What struck me most was the large houses that are a serene play space, just for children, which are separate from the daily life of the refugee barracks. The contacts I had and approaches I saw were different from center to center, but they had clear points in common, both in terms of centers themselves and the children and adults who participate in them..

Adista’s centers

They are joyful and colorful places. The centers are shady, quiet and warm and are all designed in the same way: the 1st floor is divided into 5 areas: "Symbolic" (2 zones), "Assemblage", "Rules", "Library / Drawing". The ground floor is for manual activities. Some centers also have a playground where children can play and get exercise, sometimes with outdoor games: slides, swings… Children feel that they belong there.

Children and games

The children know the different areas and the role of each very well; they know where to go depending on the game they want to play. They are also well aware of the rules: putting the game away once they have finished, not removing a game from its zone, finishing their snack before going up to the first floor.

Depending on their age, children are generally attracted by different games:

  • Smaller children (3-8 years) play more in the symbolic areas (cars, dolls, kitchenettes) and try to play Kapla [1] and draw.
  • Those aged 8-12 years essentially play the Kapla, Awale [2] and occasionally rules games (especially Mikados and UNO).
  • Adolescents (12-18 years) also play Kapla and the rules games but I found them a little less engaged: I am not sure that the games offered in the centers correspond to their ages and expectations. Especially among boys, there appears to be a great desire for exercise!

The children, whatever their age, also have a lot of fun with musical instruments (guitars and tambourines), but do not always play well. It gives opportunities for improvised concerts, which most often end in laughter.

Children and activities

All centers offer manual activities on a daily basis. These mainly involve manufacturing necklaces and bracelets, bags or masks. These activities appear to be better suited to girls than to boys. The only specific activity for boys is the manufacture of kites in some centers, which they seem to enjoy very much. The children who participate in manual activities are mainly aged 4 to 12.

Dance and theatre courses are also organized, but their frequency varies greatly from one center to another. I did not see much sport (some hoops or badminton), even though the children (especially the boys over age 10) are full of energy and want nothing more than exercise!

Adults

Families seem to find their place in the centers, by participating in activities or playing with children, or by playing or talking among themselves.

The group leaders pay good attention to the children and seem completely at ease.

Summarizing such a beautiful experience in a few lines is not easy, especially since it is essentially made of encounters and human contacts, but if I had to put it in only a few words, joy, good humor, solidarity, but also organization and professionalism would best illustrate the action of Adista and its impact on children and more generally on their communities.

Footnotes

[1] Kapla, created by the Dutchman Tom van der Bruggen, is a game which is composed of a set of small boards made of pine and all of the same size. Children and adults use the boards to create all kinds of buildings, forms, animals and so on.

[2] This is an African game played on a wooden frame (rarely in stone or metal) or is dug directly into the floor. The frame consists of 2 rows of 6 compartments. The 2 rows represent the respective camps of the players. The aim of the game is to capture as many seeds as possible. The seeds do not have a different color for each player and they belong to both players during the course of the game. Each player captures some and put them in his or her stockpile.