The Power of Play

young Reza charity

Where it all started…

Warzone childhood lead him to start a children charity 

Imagine hiding long hours in a bomb shelter as a young kid. You are with your family, with adults, but they are scared. They do not know what the future holds for them and you, their child. This experience might cause some emotional scars on you. Unless you find another way to deal with such a situation…

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Growing up during the war

Reza was born in Iran. Although his family showered him with love, his country was struggling in the eight-year Iraq-Iran war. Iraq attacked Iran in 1980 to seize control over the rich oil-producing lands at the Iranian border. Iraq was supported by many middle east and western countries while Iran did not have much of a backup. Most men of military age were underarms, and there were a lot of casualties.

Even if you have never been in a war yourself, you can imagine how hard it was to live in a warzone. And how hard it must have been to raise children there. How do you protect your children from suffering? Where do you find enough food and drinking water for them? Where will they sleep if your house gets bombed?

This was happening in the 80s, long before smartphones and tablets, so children played mostly outside. The same applied to Reza. He and his friends ran around the neighborhood and played games all day long. Life seemed normal like in any other country at that moment. But only until the loud noise of the siren, which has become almost too familiar for everybody, started to wail. That was the signal for the families to run into the shelter and hide to survive.

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The power of play

Reza’s aunt had one of those shelters where his extended family could hide. The bombers would usually come at night. As soon as everybody was inside, the lights went off. The adults taped the windows so that no glass could be shattered and fall on their and their children’s heads. The air was sticky. Filled with heat and anticipation of another round of destruction. But there was something else you could pick up in the air – the fear and anxiety that took over everybody. Thankfully, the intensity of the fear and anxiety grew smaller with every night of survival without any injury in the family. After all, humans adjust to everything. The nightmares stayed the same, unfortunately.

Small Reza was not scared. He was brave and he wanted to share his bravery with the other kids. As soon as the lights went off in the shelter, he organized his cousins to play hide and seek under the tables. Although some adults saw Reza’s behavior as naughty, it was not that. It was a mental survival mechanism. Subconsciously Reza knew that playing games will take his and other kids’ mind off the fear and anxiety-causing situation. Even in the middle of the warzone, Reza discovered the lightness of being and shared that with the others. His coping mechanism through play helped him not to suffer from PTSD in adulthood. Some of his childhood friends were not that lucky, unfortunately.

Five years ago, Reza realized that the coping mechanism he developed in childhood could help other kids to cope with their living situations. He started a children’s charity helping kids to have a real childhood and play. If you are curious about how he achieved that, keep reading our blog!

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