The game that unlocks hidden potential

A story of an adolescent girl who gained her interactive confidence through the storytelling game

The storytelling game is a prototype developed by USAID|Afya Yangu Northern zone through Human Centered Methodology implemented by Matchboxology and Health Promotion Tanzania (HDT).  The game intends to encourage family members or groups to communicate and appreciate each other’s potential. During three months of solution rollout in Dodoma region, five families enjoyed playing the game. Evidence from other families shows that children feel that there has been more inclusiveness in families and freedom of speech, increased confidence. Parents and guardians have been able to discover children’s hidden talents, etc.

In many African families, it is almost a taboo for children to speak in presence of adults, it is even worse for a girl child. Nadya is a 13-year-old adolescent girl from the central part of Tanzania, living with her mother, grandmother, and her younger sister. She is a standard 7 student at Ipangala primary school. She was one of adolescent girls who was unable to effectively communicate in her family.  

Growing up, Nadya developed a speaking disorder where she couldn’t express herself unless she is asked a number of questions. Her failure to speak was partly a result of the heart disease she was once diagnosed with which makes her sick most of the time and uncomfortable being around people. Nadya isolated herself from friends and family members due to her condition because she felt out of place.

Three weeks of playing the storytelling game, the family members started to notice how Nadya has improved her interaction with the rest of the family members, she could start conversations and enjoy them. Not only at home but also at school where she developed courage and the potential to speak until she was noticed by her class teacher Tr. Mbasha, ‘’I am seeing changes in Nadya’s interactions at school, I wondered what kind of game she was playing at home that help her to become this confident and charming.’’ Said Madam Mbasha when she meets Nadya Grandmother at church.

Nadya Grandmother told Madam Mbasha about the storytelling game they play at home, “The storytelling game is the only thing behind Nadya’s success, this storytelling game is one of a kind, it has helped us to discover Nadya’s potential and understand her more than we could have without the game. Through this game we have improved our interpersonal communication, we listen to each other and give ourself opportunities to make suggestions, and this has improved our relationship as a family,” said Ms. Mariam, Nadya’s Grandmother!

HCD immersions conducted in Dodoma region revealed that, among the overarching challenges facing adolescent included those living with HIV is lack of supportive, loving and open relationship with their parents or guardian. This means that, adolescent do not receive sexual reproductive health information that is supportive to their needs and potential from their parents or guardian. As a result, this limits their informed choice including disclosure of their status at school and at home. The Storytelling game therefore creates such open and encouraging environment for family or group members to share their experiences and learn from each other.