How Does that Game Work?
By the time my daughter Sayer was six years old, she had learned how to play games on our old Apple computer. Once when I had brought some work home from my office on my laptop, Sayer came up and looked at my screen. “What’s the name of that game, Daddy”, she asked?
I smiled, and said, “Excel”. Sayer asked how you played it, and I showed her how to add three and three. I never told her that most people don’t consider Excel a game.
I thought of that incident when I visited a savings group in in Caimito Dominican Republic today. The group was made up of young people, led by the President, Adelarissa, aged nine. The group is in its third cycle, and to the credit of their delightful volunteer trainer, Ana Rodriguez, the group manages its own affairs to a remarkable extent. Ana now only visits them every four or five months.
Is this Savings Group serious, or is it just a game? Well, I think it’s both serious AND a game. We play games all our lives. Sometimes we manage to get ahead of the game (unless we are off our game) and if we play the game right, we might end up with the only game in town.
Children’s Savings Groups are clearly games, but as in every game, the players have to practice and learn new skills in order to succeed. In the Savings Group game, members learn savings discipline, credit management, leadership, integrity, and mutual support. Not bad skills for young people to pick up! I envy the young people in Savings Groups, because - like Sayer, who is now about to graduate from college with a degree in computer science - they are learning a game that will help them be winners for the rest of their lives.