Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June 2008 Project Begins

After nearly 24 hours of flying and a pit stop in Dubai plus hours driving on pot hole filled and dirt roads we reached our destination. Today, June 3 was our first day visiting the school that we will be working at for the next 2 ½ weeks. Oh! What a feeling and sight! Our van pulled up to children on each side of the road yelling “yay, yay” and then following our van up the road. As we got out all we could see were hundreds (literally around 300 plus) of little black, smiling, faces. “You are Welcome. You are welcome.” It was hard to go straight to work instead of just getting to know each child and giving them hugs. But alas, there was no time to waste before beginning the projects. We unloaded the suitcases full of donations in a little room we got to put our stuff in and we sorted it for the children. Books, playground equipment, toys, and stuffed animals, towels, and blankets, all filled the many suitcases that will be staying at the orphanage. The nursery aged children (around 150 – and there were more older) were given the small toys and the stuffed animals, then the older kids were given playground toys such as frisbee’s and soccer balls. Lorna began the toy giveaway with a book reading of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Tomas learned that when you take a picture of the children after they see the flash, in unison they all say, “yay!” Ha ha. It was the greatest thing in the world to witness. Every time they see a camera they want to be in a picture and then they want to see the picture. You end up taking picture after picture. MEMO TO SELF: Next trip, bring one of those digital small photo printers.

After unloading and a short presentation to the children, the work began.


The Dormitory: Today the ground for the dormitory was staked out, the dimensions set as to where the building would go and measured as to how far it would be from the surrounding buildings. Tomas said, “We leveled and took the altitude at different points to figure out how much dirt to remove. Tomorrow the grater will start digging and leveling the ground to the specifications that were measure today and after that…. Building time!” I have to say that it was fun to watch the children get involved and help. They were out helping level by carrying bricks off the land. Carrying bricks on your head doesn’t sound fun to me but they made it look pretty easy.

The Playground: The start of a playground. What do you do first? Pick and hoe. We couldn’t keep the children away. The whole group worked on this project at the end of the day and I am pretty sure some of the kids worked harder than the group members. They want to be involved in everything that we do. Even putting the tools away. And if they couldn’t help because there weren’t enough tools, they were fine sitting close enough to watch and laugh.

Knitting: Jen & Lorna began to teach the nuns that volunteer at the school how to work the knitting machines. They walked into our room and saw them on the tables and just got these happy expressions on their faces. They were so excited to learn how to use them so I think every nun at the school came for lessons. We set up the machines, knitted a little, let them knit, and then put it away. We then asked them to set it up, knit, and put it away. They did very good and I think that it won’t take long before they are knitting sweaters all by themselves.

Educational Materials: I think that the books that we brought more than tripled the small library that the school had. Lorna & Jen sorted one suitcase full of schoolbooks but had no room to do anymore so have to wait until tomorrow to do more. Tomorrow books will be stamped, more brought out, and unloaded and organized. We are so excited for the kids to get their hands on these books! When we ran out of room we asked the nun who was helping, “Is it too many?” Her response, a quick, “oh no!”

One of my favorite parts of the day was watching the group interact with those they were serving. I believe that through service both parts are always benefited. On their “breaks” members of the group would play frisbee, and soccer and sing and dance with the kids. It was tiring as they all always wanted to get involved. At one point I was playing frisbee with a small group and all the sudden instead of just one there were multiple Frisbees coming at me. They all wanted to play with the white person. (Or buzumu’s as they call us – interpreted to mean while people.) Group members who came to do hard labor not liking children found something special in these ones and couldn’t stay away.

We feel very welcomed at the school and are so happy to get our projects underway. A lot was accomplished today and tomorrow we will be just as worn out (if not more) we are already certain. We want to do all that we can to help and to learn on the way.

Oh and if you want to experience what we are going through: Take a cold shower and use crepe paper instead of toilet paper. (For real the toilet paper is thin and stretchy. Haha.)

1 comment:

Alexis said...

Oh man...you make me so jealous! I want to be there with you so bad. I hope that you are giving all my friends love. Tell them I say hi. Especially Violet...and Kasekende