Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

Jumping Rope

When I was a kid at Lincoln Elementary School in Vancouver, Washington, I preferred the monkey bars during recess and would frequently hang there, often upside down, watching my classmates jump rope while chanting some rhythmic rhyme. In that pre-modern universe it was only girls that jumped rope, of course. Any attempt by a boy would quickly be rebuffed. That’s fortunate, because the few times I surreptitiously tried it I was a miserable failure, inevitably feeling the fatal sting of the rope on my ankles as I ascended or descended at the wrong time. So I didn’t do it. I just watched.

I continue to be a voyeur of jumping rope. Instead of hanging from the monkey bars, this time I use one of the cameras hanging around my neck to capture images of kids jumping rope (“skipping rope” for you Brits) all over the world. Indeed, someone has probably written their master’s thesis on globalization and jumping rope. There’s at least one international organization that promotes it.

Since I often hang out in sad places, I’m constantly surprised and encouraged by how play tempers despair, how friendly competition, not to mention coordination, represents a victory for human spirit in the midst of violence. So in tribute to kids the world over who jump rope, here are some images of a truly globalized way of playing.

Children jump rope in a model resettlement village constructed by the Lutheran World Federation in Gressier, Haiti. The settlement houses 150 families who were left homeless by the 2010 earthquake, and represents an intentional effort to "build back better," creating a sustainable and democratic community. (Paul Jeffrey)

That image, captured in an August visit to Haiti, shows girls in a model resettlement village constructed by the Lutheran World Federation in Gressier. The settlement houses 150 families who were left homeless by the 2010 earthquake, and represents an intentional effort to “build back better,” creating a sustainable and democratic community.

It’s not always girls who jump rope. The next image shows a boy in Suto Orizari, Macedonia. Located just outside Skopje, it is Europe’s largest Roma settlement. It could obviously use a “build back better” project.

A boy skips rope in Suto Orizari, Macedonia. The mostly Roma community, located just outside Skopje, is Europe's largest Roma settlement. . (Paul Jeffrey)

Now let’s see the action in India, Kenya, and Cambodia.

A girl skips rope on a street in Sathangudi, a village in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. (Paul Jeffrey/Response)

A girl skips rope in the remote Kenyan village of Kopanga, where the town's clinic is operated by the Methodist Church of Kenya. (Paul Jeffrey)

Children at play in the Chamroen neighborhood of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Paul Jeffrey)

And now East St. Louis and Timbuktu.

A girl skips rope in the Mary E. Brown Center, part of the Lessie Bates Neighborhood House in East St. Louis, Illinois. (Paul Jeffrey)

A girl jumps rope in a street in Timbuktu, the northern Mali city that was seized by Islamist fighters in 2012 and then liberated by French and Malian soldiers in early 2013. During the jihadis' rule, girls and women could not appear in public unless they were completely covered. (Paul Jeffrey)

And let’s see how they do it in the Philippines and Thailand.

A boy jumps rope in the Suburban neighborhood of Rodriguez, Rizal, in the Philippines. Most of the community's families were relocated here from other area of Manila and the nearby countryside to make way for urban renewal projects or to move them out of harm's way. Yet the new community was hit hard by Typhoon Ketsana in 2009, and Christian Aid, a member of the ACT Alliance, provided emergency relief supplies. Over the years since, with help from Christian Aid and other groups, community members have organized themselves and engaged in a process of disaster risk reduction, including identifying and mapping high-risk zones and evacuation routes in their area. Christian Aid has also assisted with financial and technical support for income generating livelihood projects and community enterprises. (Paul Jeffrey)

Girls jump rope in an orphanage founded by United Methodist missionaries in Chiang Mai, Thailandi. The girls are orphans, and are all HIV positive. (Paul Jeffrey)

In the miserable camps for displaced families in the Darfur region of Sudan, children have no hope of leaving, but they can escape for a moment in place.

Children at play in a camp near Bilel, where families displaced by the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan have taken refuge from the violence. (Paul Jeffrey)

A girl skips rope in the Dereig Camp for internally displaced persons, one of many such settlements for people displaced by the violence in Darfur. (Paul Jeffrey)

Girls skip rope in front of their school in the Dereig Camp for internally displaced persons. (Paul Jeffrey)

Here are images of children skipping rope in the Makpandu refugee camp in Southern Sudan, where more that 4,000 people have lived since 2008 when the Lord’s Resistance Army attacked their communities inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The third image includes Sister Margaret Scott, a New Zealander and member of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, who’s a member of Solidarity with South Sudan.

Children skip rope in the Makpandu refugee camp in Southern Sudan, 44 km north of Yambio, where more that 4,000 people took refuge in late 2008 when the Lord's Resistance Army attacked their communities inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Attacks by the LRA inside Southern Sudan and in the neighboring DRC and Central African Republic have displaced tens of thousands of people, and many worry the attacks will increase as the government in Khartoum uses the LRA to destabilize Southern Sudan, where people are scheduled to vote on independence in January 2011. Catholic pastoral workers have accompanied the people of this camp from the beginning. (Paul Jeffrey)

Children skip rope in the Makpandu refugee camp in Southern Sudan, 44 km north of Yambio, where more that 4,000 people took refuge in late 2008 when the Lord's Resistance Army attacked their communities inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Attacks by the LRA inside Southern Sudan and in the neighboring DRC and Central African Republic have displaced tens of thousands of people, and many worry the attacks will increase as the government in Khartoum uses the LRA to destabilize Southern Sudan, where people are scheduled to vote on independence in January 2011. Catholic pastoral workers have accompanied the people of this camp from the beginning. (Paul Jeffrey)

Sister Margaret Scott, a New Zealander and member of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, helps children skip rope in the Makpandu refugee camp in Southern Sudan, 44 km north of Yambio, where more that 4,000 people took refuge in late 2008 when the Lord's Resistance Army attacked their communities inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Attacks by the LRA inside Southern Sudan and in the neighboring DRC and Central African Republic have displaced tens of thousands of people, and many worry the attacks will increase as the government in Khartoum uses the LRA to destabilize Southern Sudan, where people are scheduled to vote on independence in January 2011. Catholic pastoral workers have accompanied the people of this camp from the beginning. Sister Margaret works in the area as a member of Solidarity with Southern Sudan, a group of Catholic priests, sisters and brothers from around the world who assist the nascent nation's people with education, health, and pastoral ministry. (Paul Jeffrey)

And here are some kids, refugees from the government bombing of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile areas of Sudan, who have fled with their families to refugee camps in Maban County in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. I pray they may soon be able to jump rope at home.

Girls skipping rope during a school recess in the Gendrassa refugee camp in South Sudan's Upper Nile State. More than 110,000 refugees were living in four camps in Maban County in October 2012, but officials expected more would arrive once the rainy season ended and people could cross rivers that block the routes from Sudan's Blue Nile area, where Sudanese military has been bombing civilian populations as part of its response to a local insurgency. Conditions in the camps are often grim, with outbreaks of diseases such as Hepatitis E. (Paul Jeffrey)

Children skip rope in a "Child Friendly Space" in the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in South Sudan's Upper Nile State. More than 110,000 refugees were living in four camps in Maban County in October 2012, but officials expected more would arrive once the rainy season ended and people could cross rivers that block the routes from Sudan's Blue Nile area, where Sudanese military has been bombing civilian populations as part of its response to a local insurgency. Conditions in the camps are often grim, with outbreaks of diseases such as Hepatitis E. (Paul Jeffrey)

Girls skipping rope during a school recess in the Gendrassa refugee camp in South Sudan's Upper Nile State. More than 110,000 refugees were living in four camps in Maban County in October 2012, but officials expected more would arrive once the rainy season ended and people could cross rivers that block the routes from Sudan's Blue Nile area, where Sudanese military has been bombing civilian populations as part of its response to a local insurgency. Conditions in the camps are often grim, with outbreaks of diseases such as Hepatitis E. (Paul Jeffrey)

A boy jumps rope in the Gendrassa refugee camp in South Sudan's Upper Nile State. More than 110,000 refugees were living in four camps in Maban County in October 2012, but officials expected more would arrive once the rainy season ended and people could cross rivers that block the routes from Sudan's Blue Nile area, where Sudanese military has been bombing civilian populations as part of its response to a local insurgency. Conditions in the camps are often grim, with outbreaks of diseases such as Hepatitis E. (Paul Jeffrey)

Shtayim ba-kol       
Mastik agol   
Kaniti etmol              
Be’tzeva kakhol. 

2 Responses to Jumping Rope

  1. Virginia kayser says:

    How uplifting, a photo essay on kids jumping rope. As a child I was quite proficient even at double Dutch (two ropes overhand), not so much with I think it was called double French (two ropes underhand) The trick was timing the entrance into the two ropes. And the chants we used.

    I’m reminded how jumping rope is timeless and enjoyed in so many places with minimum equipment.

  2. Laurie Basler says:

    Hi Paul and Lyda:

    Been looking for a charity we believe in, Not a ton money, but will give something as we can. Just so wonderful to see your face, Paul and know your still doing gods work, which is so in your heart.

    Have thought of you so many times over so many years.

    Merry Xmas.

    Lyda, so glad you are still able to put up with such a crazy crazy man. You are the epitome of grace.

    Would go crazy to see pics of your children, and learn of their lives.

    Life looks like it’s been a wonderful journey for you guys.

    Love Dan and Laurie Basler Mccleary

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