• Circle of Friends
    By Durray Sadaf

    M. Azam had experienced barriers throughout his entire young life, but they had never been fun like this before.

    M. Azam during an activityEncircled by his peers and surrounded by their cheers, M. Azam is encouraged to begin a game he’s never played. He looks at the ball he’s holding, takes a deep breath and throws it. The other children scream for joy as they try to catch it, unaware of the smile that’s taken over M. Azam’s face.

    He isn’t watching from outside the circle's boundary any more. He’s a part of it.

    It wasn’t always this way. M. Azam grew up feeling neglected, shunned and humiliated at home and in his community. Deaf and mute, his disabilities were seen as a burden and there were few programs that he could participate in. When extreme flooding ravaged his hometown, it left the only school in shambles, his community traumatized and M. Azam deeply withdrawn.

    When his mother learned about Right To Play’s play-based development programs, she was keen to get her son involved. Fearing he would be discriminated against, the young boy hesitated to join and cried inconsolably.

    He was overwhelmed to see the number of children playing in the school rubble. Even when he stopped crying and seemed interested in their games, he didn’t want to come back to school once he returned home. It was too reminiscent of the Pakistan boy’s past.

    Recognizing his fears and understanding them, Azmeena, a Right To Play Coach approached M. Azam’s mother and convinced her to send M. Azam back to the school. It worked. Through simple play-based activities and a lot of encouragement, Azeema has been able to help M. Azam rebuild his confidence.

    The walls built around him all his life are finally coming down.