This piece is by Ethel Chimenya after she, together with others, took the flow game into Chikurubi maximum security prison in Harare.
"Hold fast to dreams,
for if a dream dies
life is like a broken winged bird
that cannot fly…"
This is the feeling I carried after seeing the pregnant women, and women with young kids in the prison.
Time was not enough, but the little time we had made a shift in the way they felt about the life ahead of them.
We were eight hosts and every host had three players, two prisoners and one social worker. We played with the question: What am I ready to let go off in my life? At first the prisoners were a little scared to ask or contribute anything to each other so the first round was a very swift round. They were not ready to really open up at that moment, but I went on to explain to them that whatever you say, you are saying to the game. If you do not really speak what is coming from your heart, you won't receive the gifts of the game.
My first player then rolled the dice and picked a card from the South direction. Her question was around the relations with herself and the people around her. She was ready to share, and began to explain about her challenge with her short temper. She went on to explain how she felt that this problem and lack of control of herself had destroyed her life, As she shared more deeply, she opened the space for others to open up too, and to share about their personal lives. The next player then picked a card from the north direction. It asked her to reflecton on the times she steps up and makes progress. She is in for life. She ended up sharing how she is actually happy to spend the rest of her life in prison because of her fear and shame of facing the world and her family after what she did. Then it was the social workers turn. Another community card. Her challenge was that all her time she was giving more to her job than her family. She is looking for how to balance the two families: the prisoners and her family. It was a beautiful moment. It made
the prisoners feel very safe hearing the social talking about this balance, and of the prison as one of her families. They felt they were part of the social worker’s family.
It was a first game. We had less time than originally planned, but I believe that the game, the connections and the reflections struck a chord somewhere and that in the next games the players will be more able to share their personal stories and thus gain the relief, insight and clarity that this game has to offer.
I was mostly touched by the way they shouted. Yes, they shouted! "They must come back! We need more games."
It made us feel the impact the game had to the people.
And perhaps the game can even bring some healing to their wings.