Games for change

Jan 19, 2014, 11:02 IST | Moeena Halim

Trained as Warriors Without Weapons, four Indian youngsters — Rachana Radhakrishna, Azeer Attari, Areen Attari and Vishal Singh Dhaybhai — have been using co-operative games they call Oasis Games to bring about change, plant the seeds of aspiration and enable communities to achieve their collective dreams

The very first time I was attempting to play the Oasis Game, I came across this lady in a slum in Udaipur in 2009. Her house had a nallah right in front of it, but she had placed potted plants all around it. ‘I just love plants,’ she’d said to me as I entered her tiny 10x10 house. When I asked her about her dream, she said she wanted nothing other than to get everyone else to love plants just as much as she did,” recalls Rachana Radhakrishna, who went on to attend Warriors Without Weapons’ (WWW) experiential training programme in Santos, Brazil in 2011.

Rachana Radhakrishna, Azeer Attari, Vishal Singh Dhaybhai and Areen Attari intend to introduce many others to the Oasis Games  

Apart from focussing on beauty and abundance within a community, the WWW philosophy also values dreams as the best impulse to create change. One of the aspects of the seven-step Oasis Game, which the ‘warriors’ learn during their one-month training in Santos, is to figure out the collective dream of a community and make it a reality in a short span of time.

Dream catchers
Radhakrishna, who was attempting to discover personal dreams before gauging a collective one, got lucky with the lady with the green thumb. “She was what we call the ‘point of light’. She took me by surprise, because before I got to her house, I’d already been given answers about wanting a whole lot of money,” laughs the
27-year-old architect.

Children participate in a session of Oasis Game at  Dhampur

Azeer Attari, a bio-architect by profession, who also attended the programme in 2011, says the trick is to ask the right questions — something Radhakrishna has learnt over the course of time.

“Most of the time you’ll get superficial answers. Getting the real dream is sometimes a challenge. We have to develop the art, must coax them and actively listen to their responses. Let their superficial and personal dreams come out and eventually you’ll figure out what they want for their community. It could be a cultural centre or a community bench or anything like that,” explains Azeer, who was tremendously inspired by the philosophy after meeting with WWW co-founder Edgard Gouveia Jr during his trip to the country in 2010.

In Udaipur, in 2009, after asking everyone in the community, Radhakrishna and her team played another game — World Café — which promotes meaningful conversations and helped them discover the collective dream. What the community in Udaipur needed was a common area to get-together and socialise. “We worked on a place near the hand pump where we created a beautiful sit out for them. We built a bench, decorated it with colourful dupattas, and also created an interesting play area for children,” she reveals.

Inspire and achieve
During the one-month WWW intensive training session in Brazil, generally held in the first month of the year, the ‘warriors’ are taught using various fun ways, such as circular dances or co-operative games, enabling them to use the techniques to bring people together, identify and solve problems creatively.

The Oasis Game at Mahindra United World College, Pune, enabled the staff to develop an emotional bond with the students 

The group is also made to work with favelas (slums) in Santos. Radhakrishna recalls helping to set up a bakery for the women of a tiny favela atop a hill in Santos. “Many women baked at home regularly, but those who didn’t had to go all the way down the hill to buy bread. Having a bakery enabled the bakers in the town to sell their wares too,” says Radhakrishna. “Visiting the communities helps us learn how to inspire. We help them to realise how easy it is to light the flame in each one of us. The aim is to have faith in ourselves and in each other. We actually go through the process of building a dream and helping a community become more economically independent.” explains Azeer, who made sure his younger brother Areen attended the programme the following year.

An Indian Adaptation
Since their return from Santos, the Attaris, along with Radhakrishna and fellow warrior Vishal Singh Dhaybhai, have played the Oasis Game at a number of schools and communities in India. From Baroda in Gujarat to Dhampur in Uttar Pradesh, the Oasis Games have already spread smiles across rural and urban communities alike.

“We also had an incredibly interesting session with the staff and students at Mahindra United World College of India, Pune. The students had invited us because they believed the staff, ie the gardener, cook and so on, needed new and improved living quarters. But after we played the Oasis Game with them, we realised that that’s not what the staff wanted at all. They just wanted a better relationship with the students, something that was quite obviously missing. The Game bridged the gap and helped create an emotional bond between the two distinct groups,” says Radhakrishna.

The four youngsters intend to introduce more and more people across the country to the Games and the WWW philosophy. “Ideally, we’d like to set up a WWW centre in the country. But we still have a lot to learn. Besides, in Brazil, apart from playing the Oasis Game, we are made to follow a set of rituals. These are based on the traditions of the indigenous tribes. For instance, once a week we are taken to the countryside, to an extremely scenic place, and made to spend three hours in the water. If we do bring the programme to India, we’d like to adapt these rituals to something more India-specific. After all, our country is just as culturally rich,” she asserts.
Back to Brazil

This year, the four of them were invited back to Santos to share their experiences of playing the Oasis Games in India. While Dhaybhai and the Attari brothers have already made it to South America, Radhakrishna decided to skip the trip for want of funds. “It was important that they go, because we want to make the Games more impactful. The event is being organised so that people from across the globe share their experiences to discuss where we’re falling short and how we can reach out to more people,” explains Radhakrishna.

Log onto to help fund the warriors’ trip to Santos, Brazil

What is Warrior Without Weapons?

Warriors Without Weapons is a one-month experiential training programme carried out in Santos, Brazil. It is based on the Elos philosophy, which aims at creating the best world possible by focussing on beauty and abundance. Any dream is achievable, they believe, if it is worked on freely and good willingly, with no suffering and believing that their efforts
are effective.

The philosophy includes seven subjects — Gaze, Affection, Dream, Care, Miracle, Celebration and Re-evolution — which make up the Oasis Games. In Santos, the warriors learn to play the Oasis Games within favelas (slums) to establish a sense of abundance of resources, create emotional bonds, encourage them to aspire for the best and help them to achieve the dream by offering hands-on assistance.

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