The numbers in the squares have been replaced with significant messages relating to TB, HIV and co-infection. The ladders signify do’s while the snakes denote ‘don’ts’.

Life is so similar to the game of ‘snakes & ladders’ (Vaikuntapali in Telugu). You might come across people or situations that are as poisonous as snakes, but if you keenly observe, there are also ladders that can actually help you run to safety from them.

Taking cue from the powerful message of the game, Vasavya Mahila Mandali (VMM), a city-based NGO, has brought into play the ‘Snakes and Ladders’ board game to educate TB and HIV-afflicted unlettered patients in the community on the series of ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’.

“Instead of conducting workshops, we make them sit in a group and play this game after explaining to them the concept of the ‘snakes’ and the ‘ladders’ in the gridded squares, they return home equipped with all the information needed to lead a healthy life,” says VMM’s technical Support Manager G. Keerthy.

The board game with numbers and gridded squares has pictures of ‘ladders’ and ‘snakes’ connecting two specific squares.

The object of the game is to navigate one’s game, according to die rolls, from the start (bottom square) to the finish (top square), helped or hindered by ladders and snakes respectively.

The board used by the NGO reads “ART & TB DOTS (Direct Observation Therapy Short Course) Medicines – Good Practices.”

The numbers in the squares have been replaced with significant messages relating to TB, HIV and co-infection. The ladders signify do’s while the snakes denote ‘don’ts’.

“If a person put on DOTS discontinues medication abruptly” reads a warning in a square with the picture of a snake’s raised hood that tumbles down to a lower row connecting to a square which says: “TB medicines will not work”.

“A large number of patients are unlettered.This innovative mode helps us provide them basic information on health services and other benefits. In a month, we make at least 20 people play this board game. In 36 months, the game is used at least 720 times resulting in 900 rounds of the game played by different groups. At the end of it all, the game is played at least 648,000 times and among the players, at least 60 per cent of them play it repeatedly, taking the message to around 3,88,800 people,” explains Keerthy.

Vinyl posters, stickers and theatre slides are other modes used liberally by VMM to educate beneficiaries of various welfare programmes.

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