In Uganda, most children growing up learn how to play Omweso, which is their version of the world famous game Mancala. It is played frequently in the villages and towns and there is even a National Omweso Championship in Kampala for the best players. Young people also learn draughts, Ludo and even a film has been launched about the ability of children in the slums of Kampala (where we work) to play chess - Queen of Katwe.
Yet modern boardgames are hardly available to buy in Kampala, with supermarkets stocking just uncopyrighted versions of Monopoly and Scrabble. The larger stores stock games at very high prices, which local people could never afford.
Chrysalis has been training children to be changemakers and social entrepreneurs for the last seven years and we have been using modern boardgames to train them in a whole range of skills, from social to persuasion, planning to resource management, adaptability to tactics and much more. The children have loved the theming of board and card games and have learnt about new cultures, history, food and even farming, with the wonderful Agricola game. Our experience is that the games help with their self confidence, their ability to learn and generally provide creative influence and inspiration.
In May this year, during the school holiday period, we plan to launch a boardgames convention in rural Koro in Uganda, where we have a centre for children's activities. Koro is quite remote, has no electricity and we have only recently been able to install a borehole on the site to provide water for ourselves and our neighbours. Over the years we have managed to train a large number of young people how to teach and play board games and these will form a team, who will travel with us to Koro and help run the whole weeks' events. We will inviting friends from other youth organisations in Gulu, including Straight Talk Foundation.
As part of the launch, we plan to deliver five activities:
1. The Regional Omweso Youth Championship. This will be a prize event, that anyone 16 and under will be able to participate in. the idea is that this will encourage many children to come and show their skills. We will feed them when they come and once they have played their Omweso, then we will teach them some other games. Winners of the tournament will win scholastic materials and, if possible, we will give them their own omweso set.
2. Boardgame competitions for RoboRally and Codenames Pictures. We were recently donated a copy of these two games by Boardgame Monster, a UK boardgame company. Codenames is an incredibly interesting team game, which can be played in any language, yet is very skilful, once you grasp how to play effectively. RoboRally is an 8-player "brain-bender" game, where you need to quickly predict what your movement is going to be each turn, to try to avoid the laser blasts of the other robots, while attempting to reach checkpoints.
3. "Tryout" games like Alhambra, Cosmic Encounter, Ingenious and 7 Wonders. Again these are games, which require little in terms of English skills and can be taught quickly and easily. Each also has its fair degree of luck, so everyone has a chance to win, if they can grasp the rules.
4. A "How Deep Can You Go? - Caverns of Koro" dungeon adventure for our roleplaying group. We will use a simplified roleplaying system to have a Pathfinder tournament. The winner will be the team that can reach the furthest in 60 minutes.
5. Computer games - Ticket to Ride and Small World and Farkle
This year, Chrysalis has raised £3500 to send over a container to Uganda, which includes upwards of 150 board games, roleplaying supplements and other gaming materials. We're also sending tables, chairs, desks (for a new school), art materials, books, including children's reading books, sports equipment, clothes, a generator and many more items. Later in the year, we plan to send a second container to fully outfit the school.
However, we still need to raise money to send the container from Kampala to our site in Koro village, in Northern Uganda and we are looking for some support for this, to get everything we need to Koro in time for the event.
We will spend the money in the following way for the rural board games convention:
£500 will get us
- Transport of the Youth Board Game Team from Kampala to Koro by bus. We will also need to support their living costs while staying on the Koro site, which might also include purchasing bedding etc.
- Lunch for all of the children that attend for the three days of the event
- Support for the adults ensuring safety and providing food at the event
Any additional money we raise will go to support the container's arrival and transport to Koro.
A further £1500 will get us:
- the container transported to Koro with 150 new board games, tables and chairs, books, films, art materials, roleplaying supplements and much more.
- 27 computers for our new computer centre
A further £500 will enable us to:
- extend the boardgame sessions to 7 days (from 3 days)
- include more prizes and give away omweso sets to the winners of that competition
- Produce more wooden board games, like Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Draughts, Omweso and even Kensington