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Helping Africa’s children

Mission co-workers and African partners strive to open doors of opportunity

by Rosemary Mitchell | Mission Engagement and Support

LOUISVILLE – Presbyterian mission co-workers Jeff and Christi Boyd developed a floor and board game several years ago to help U.S. Presbyterians appreciate the joint efforts of students, parents, communities and churches to improve education in Africa. The game also prompts players to ponder the plight of African children.

Players of “The Africa Game” roll the dice in hopes of advancing around the board from elementary school to high school graduation and post-secondary training opportunities. Players may land on squares that move them toward the finish line or squares that impede or end their progress. The object of the game is not to finish first, but simply to finish.

On the negative squares, players may learn that:

  • “Your parents can’t afford school fees.”
  • “Your teacher did not come to class today. He must work in the field to feed his family.”
  • “Classes are canceled because rain is pouring into your classroom through holes in the grass roof.”
  • “Despite your great effort, you’ve failed the entrance test for secondary school.”

On the positive squares, players receive messages such as:

  • “Your mother had a good day selling vegetables in the market. She can buy you some notebooks.”
  • “Good grades have earned you a place in a technical secondary school.”
  • “The church has been able to build new classrooms.”
  • “You have earned a place at the university.”

The game not only depicts the common pitfalls that African children encounter, but the players also experience the unfair gender gap that is built into portrayed events. Through the Africa Game, we can get a glimpse of some struggles that African children confront. While a game is an interesting way to understand issues, life is not a game. That reality is front and center to the Boyds and other mission co-workers.

Jeff, a former math teacher, is the PC(USA)’s regional liaison for Central Africa and brings to his work a special devotion to education. He facilitates programs that increase access to quality education in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea. Through these initiatives, thousands of students are receiving a significantly improved quality of education.

Christi is the PC(USA)’s facilitator of women’s and children’s interests in five countries: Congo, Madagascar, Niger, Rwanda and South Sudan. In war-torn East Congo, Christi works with a trauma-healing ministry for children that is provided by the Women’s Department of the Church of Christ in Congo. Children in the program begin the process of healing by dealing with issues such as grief, self-worth, the desire for revenge and the forgiveness of perpetrators.

In a recent letter to U.S. supporters, Christi wrote: “It has been well established that unhealed childhood trauma increases the risk of developing personal problems and a tendency toward violent behavior in later life. … Healing children’s wounds of trauma is therefore a way to break the cycle of violence, trauma and behavioral disorders, a first and necessary step for peacebuilding in conflict zones such as the volatile region of East Congo.”

By supporting our mission co-workers, you can help them and our partners address the issues children face and make opportunities, like those portrayed in the Africa Game’s positive squares, possible for more children.

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To learn how to access a copy of the Africa Game, contact World Mission’s Africa Office at 800-728-7228, ext. 5031. A copy may be available in your presbytery resource center. The game is suitable for ages 8 and up and takes about 45 minutes to play.

Rosemary Mitchell is senior director of Mission Engagement and Support at the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Contact her at mailto:rosemary.mitchell@pcusa.org.

MAKE A GIFT
Support Jeff and Christi Boyd’s work in Africa.
pcusa.org/donate/E200314

This article is from the Fall 2017 issue of Mission Crossroads magazine, which is printed and mailed free to subscribers’ homes within the U.S. three times a year by Presbyterian World Mission. To subscribe, visit pcusa.org/missioncrossroads.


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