A Right To Play and Have Fun

A Right To Play and Have Fun

Oct 02, 2018

The theme of Amaro Tan’s 2018 summer camp was “I have rights.” This may seem like an unusual theme for a summer camp, but for the children of Amaro Tan, it is a vitally important one. The UN Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC), ratified in 1989, delineates the universal rights of children, regardless of who they are and where they live. The right to play is included alongside needs such as the right to life, health, and education, and freedom from discrimination and slavery. Children need to play; it is part of how they learn and grow. For many of Pogradec’s poorest Roma and Balkan Egyptian children, though, accessing this right—and the other, basic rights of a decent childhood—can be challenging.

During the school year, the Amaro Tan School provides at-risk children with a clean, safe place to learn, teaching them skills that will help them access a dignified future. Health care, vocational training, nutritious meals, and aid for their families are also available. In summer, Amaro Tan students take a break from schoolwork, but have less access to the services at their school. Faced with pressures to help their desperately poor families get by, they are at an elevated risk of dropping out.

Enter Summer Camp 2018. Funded this year through a grant from the Rotary Club of Estes Park, this camp was created to support the right of Amaro Tan students to play and have fun in the summer. Dave Evans, Rotary Club of Estes Park President, said “We at Rotary Club of Estes Park, and our District 5440, are happy to support this worthwhile endeavor.” For two weeks this August, the 52 participants were picked up at home and brought to the Nehemiah Gateway campus at Buçimas every day. After breakfast, they split into four groups by age, and enjoyed fun, age-appropriate activities and games led by Amaro Tan staff.

3rd grade teacher Alketa Çina says “the children just love being at camp, and enjoy every activity we have prepared for them. They feel safe at the compound, and have built strong relationships with each other.” Activities took place mostly on campus, which has several lovely open-air shade structures perfect for avoiding the heat, as well as at Pogradec city park. On the last day of camp, the camp took a field trip to Drilon National Park on the outskirts of the city—a popular local tourist destination many of them had never had the opportunity to visit.

The children loved camp. Arbiola Mahmutllari, who is going into sixth grade, says “I loved the summer school because there are lots of games to play, plenty of food and activities.” Orgest, age 10, adds that the food was delicious.

Ambra Topi, an Amaro Tan graduate who now attends the Nehemia High School, came back to help with the younger children at camp. She says “I wanted to help in the summer camp with the little children because I feel that I must be useful and give something in return, so I can express my gratitude for all the contributions that the school and Nehemiah Gateway have given me.”