An eye-catching title? Well I certainly thought so when a friend of mine told me about it.
Roleplaying Development in Uganda is a not-for-profit organisation run by Patrick Aikonia, an S1 Student. S1 is the first year of Junior High School in Uganda. Patrick’s idea is to encourage young people to exercise their imagination through games, specifically Roleplaying Games (RPGs).
We are talking good, old fashioned Table Top games. Patrick is currently using Pathfinder, the Open Licence game from Paizo based on Dungeons and Dragons.
I’ve been playing RPGs since February 1983. I started off with Basic Dungeons and Dragons by E Gary Gygax. This was the original red boxed game which introduced me to a world inhabited by creatures similar to those from Lord of the Rings. Of course I already knew that LOTR was based on mythology and Dungeons and Dragons was milking the same sources.
My imagination had been buzzing for some time – I’ve said before that 1977 was a big year for me with 2000AD being launched and then Star Wars ( I was already an avid Doctor Who fan). 1983 expanded my imagination and let me express myself through the lives of the characters that I created for these games.
A friend of mine, who was in my original ‘club’, was a teaching assistant a few years back. He was working with children with Learning Difficulties and he used Comics and RPGs to inspire the children to read.
That friend is the brother to the friend that told me about Patrick’s program, and this particular friend is the Dungeon Master in my current RPG group. We, like Patrick, are using Pathfinder. However we are 5 40-Somethings.
Patrick runs his games with groups of 4 or 5 children and he has four friends helping him by running games. Using Pathfinder to give them something to build their own imagination around. These are games that encourage team-work as well as self development. To succeed you must work together but you must also understand the rules, get to grip with cause and consequence. There is language and mathematics involved.
It is fun but as one of my friends proved a few years ago it can make real changes in the development of a child. Positive changes.
Patrick hopes to go on to University and become an Engineer. He is a young man already giving back to society and hoping to develop other young lives.
I can stroll in to Leeds and go to Travelling Man and pore over a few RPGs quite easily. We did used to have more very high quality shops in Leeds but the Internet seems to have slowly taken over. But Travelling Man is still there. In Uganda Patrick doesn’t have any shops he can pop in to.
So much of what he has he has received as gifts from others – for example Chris Dolunt sent him a copy of his Nyambe D20 setting. I’m looking for a copy of a game yet another of my friends published a few years ago – Darkwood, based on the legend of Robin Hood (I had a little involvement in that too) – to send over to him.
If you’ve read this far and have some Games, Adventures or equipment you think might be useful to Patrick and his team why not get in touch with him and help keep him stocked with the things he needs to keep on developing his project. His FB Page is Roleplaying Development in Uganda.