Field Note: BRAC Humanitarian Play Lab Model: Promoting Healing, Learning and Development for Displaced Rohingya Children
In August 2017, almost a million Rohingya people fled to Bangladesh to escape violence and persecution in Myanmar; 55 percent of them were children. BRAC, one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the world, operates an initiative called the Humanitarian Play Lab model for children ages 0-6 in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. The intervention combines play-based learning with psychosocial support from para-counselors to promote positive developmental outcomes for children in crisis settings. Designed using a community-based participatory approach that promotes a sense of pride and belonging among those living in a displaced community, the play model strongly emphasizes the importance indigenous cultural practices play in healing and learning. This field note, which describes the key features of the play model, covers the period of implementation from its start in October 2017 up to December 2019. Our intended audience includes policymakers, practitioners, and other advocates for early childhood development and play who are working to promote child development and well-being in humanitarian settings. We offer this description as a case study of how providing play-based learning to children in emergency situations may help mitigate the detrimental long-term effects of displacement and trauma.