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Race for Humanity: Four Play for Peace Mentors Share Their Stories

Now that we’re one week into Level Up: Race for Humanity, we want to introduce some of the amazing mentors from our Play for Peace clubs who are taking part in this month-long event. While they may live in different countries, they’ve all joined Play for Peace and found compassion, connection, and community, despite the conflict that exists in their regions and in the world today.

Over the next few weeks we’ll follow their journeys, sharing how they are leveling up in their communities. Below you’ll meet Obed from Burundi, Farheen from India, Ani from Sri Lanka, and Francisco from Mexico, and learn how Play for Peace has changed their lives and why they’re taking part in Level Up: Race for Humanity.

Obed Nijimbre, Burundi

“Play for Peace will help with unity and promote joy, since everyone is invited to play,” says Obed Niimbere, a mentor for Play for Peace Burundi. Since the club was initiated in 2019, Obed has watched his community heal as a result of Play for Peace, after experiencing ongoing poverty and political strife. The club began when Play for Peace trainers Sam and Sarah Towers visited Burundi, hosting peace sessions with students, teachers, and staff in six different schools. After the success of these sessions, the group in Burundi officially registered as a Play for Peace club and Obed stayed on as a mentor to facilitate games and activities with community children. He thinks that the Level Up activities month will have a positive effect on his community, by creating unity and joy, especially in the midst of COVID-19.

Farheen Anwar, India

From Delhi, India, Farheen Anwar is a mentor for the Peace Game Club. As a result of Play for Peace, she has seen many positive effects on her community, and on a personal level as well. “I thought there was no game in this world made for me. . . . None of the sports games include physically disabled people like me,” explains Farheen. “Play for Peace trainers [created] games in which I was also able to participate and have fun.” After her introduction to Play for Peace, she formed a club and brought laughter and joy to children in her community—many who had experienced trauma in their lives. Now, due to COVID-19, her club is dealing with the stress of the pandemic and facing the challenge of teaching children to social distance and wear masks.

“The Level Up race will help to build children’s confidence," Farheen says. "There will be an opportunity to promote peace, education, and leadership.”

Aninilavan (Ani) Puvanesan, Sri Lanka

Ani Puvanesan has been a mentor for the Breeze of Peace Club in Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka, since 2017. He first engaged with Play for Peace while working with another organization, and was so inspired by Play for Peace’s strategy and games used to engage with children and youth that he formed his own club. 

According to Ani, “Play for Peace is a great platform for children to gather and play different games to overcome the stress and trauma they have undergone.” In most cases this stress is due to war, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. Ani feels that the Race for Humanity is going to be a wonderful event and a great way for children to relieve the stress that COVID-19 has brought to his community—both physical and mental.

Francisco Hueyatl León, Mexico

While the Mexico Club was started in 2017, Francisco Hueyatl had been working as a graphic design volunteer for Play for Peace long before that. After an inspirational training in his community, Francisco officially became a club mentor, spreading Play for Peace’s values to the college where he currently works as a professor. 

“The values ​​that are maintained and the Play for Peace global network has helped me understand other cultures, other ways of seeing life and, above all, help locally through this family that supports us throughout the world,” says Francisco. “And without a doubt being able to help in my community has been very significant.” For Francisco, COVID-19 has been a challenging time that has affected close friends and caused an environment of sadness and hopelessness. He believes that Level Up: Race for Humanity will help his club to connect once again—even remotely—and work together to create compassion, connection, and community on a global level. 

Check back for updates about these amazing mentors’ journeys. Be sure to join them in the Race for Humanity by registering now!