‘A Game of Uno’ by Karen Anstis – Service Manager, Caritas Bakhita House

Uno is a card game, a game of luck. But to us at Caritas Bakhita House it is so much more. 

Our guests have come from 37 countries around the world and have been aged between 15 and 70. Their connection to each other on arrival is their trafficking journey and exploitation. Not a plight any of us would want to have in common. 

Freedom from exploitation brings many hurdles to overcome. It is a new journey that is also not an easy one, moving towards taking back control and achieving a life without fear and pain. When our guests arrive we need to find positives, to show how life can be. Eating together and playing Uno is part of our solution. 

Food is a must for every one of us and lack of it is sometimes the reason a person becomes easy prey for traffickers. Food makes a person strong again and able to function more clearly; it prevents illness and pain.

Uno needs no language, it does not isolate, it is a way we can all communicate. It brings together those who, at first, cannot speak in English, but soon learn numbers and colours. It enables them to become part of a group that holds dark memories of their previous journeys but also shares happier memories as they learn to laugh again. When they first join the group, it has often been a long time since they have laughed and been in control of their own decisions. It shows them that it is ok to laugh again, to be with others who are also moving forward, and that life is not all about pain, greed and destruction, but about sharing good times with new friends.  

Laughter has always been the best medicine in the World and, if we can help people to laugh again, we can allow them a vision of what is possible, no longer a vision of the impossible.

What do you think?