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How can children in rohingya learn and play for strong development?

BRAC Play-Based Child-Friendly Spaces

Marker Rohingya
In addition to providing safe space, mentally stimulating BRAC play-based education and mental health support to displaced children in a low-cost camp setting, the intervention also tackles the erosion of cultural pride and loss of identity that can occur in children who have faced ethnicity based persecution. This program aims to promote confidence in the children's identity to better facilitate their rehabilitation and set them on a path to a brighter future.

What are BRAC Play-Based Child-Friendly Spaces?


There are hundreds of thousands of Rohingya child refugees in Bangladesh who arrived mentally and physically traumatised.

Now, they are receiving much-needed psychological therapy in safe spaces where they can enjoy their childhood.

BRAC has employed a play-based curriculum, within child-friendly indoor and outdoor play spaces, that is customized to include the cultural learning practices of the FDMN community. The model especially is culturally appropriate play-based model that is designed to suit the CFS, and includes rhymes and physical play activities that have been researched and collected from the community. This play-based model is relevant for children of the early years, as, during the first 1000 days, a child’s brain is twice as active and 80% of all developmental milestones of a child take place. The curriculum is designed to incorporate play in all learning and developmental domains of a child, facilitating in physical, gross motor, cognitive and socio-emotional development. One integral part of the model is the use of culturally relevant play materials created from low-cost, readily available materials. 

The program further seeks to engage the mothers through group sessions to address hygiene practices, primary care-giving, maternal mental health issues and the importance of playful behavior between mother and child. This is important in mitigating the trauma and grievances faced by the large portion of these women, as well as key in fostering positive early years’ stimulation and stronger mother-child bond. 

A team of BIED psycho-social counselors also train barefoot counselors and para-counselors to address child, adolescent and maternal mental health issues. Barefoot counselors are outreach workers who facilitate sessions with both children attending the CFS’ as well as their mothers. Skilled in areas empathetic listening, understanding of basic emotions & values, non-judgmental attitude, confidentiality, trauma, anxiety, stress, depression, psychotic symptoms, drug addiction and referral pathways, barefoot counselors ensure that every CFS child and parent has access to the required mental health support. Barefoot counselors also ensure referral pathways for cases that need added intervention by para-counselors. 14 par-counselors are currently working in different camps with families, children and other community members, with 10 more para-counselors being developed alongside by 8 trained psychologists. 

Volunteers from the host community, along with volunteers from the FDMN community are also trained and employed to conduct the sessions, fostering community empowerment within the target population and better relationships with the host community. The programs incorporate community workers as well cultural learning practices to promote and restore the cultural pride of the community.

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Intended Outcomes
1 - 18
Age Group
Resources Needed
HundrED Criteria
BRAC Play-Based Child Friendly Spaces foster a supportive culture and an innovative approach to challenges in the most difficult situations.
By creating and implementing a curriculum that resonates with their cultural values and incorporates elements of their story-telling traditions, we hope to instil cultural pride and a sense of identity within the children. Through counselling and play we hope to build resilience within the children to help them be better manage possible trauma caused by their experiences of violence.
To date, Brac's 56 child friendly spaces provide sanctuaries for 2,940 children who are vulnerable to exploitation, sexual harassment and child trafficking.

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Sakhwat Hosain
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