A Simple Trampoline
By Priyanka Menon
Today was a day of hard work but also accomplishments. We started the day with a filling breakfast as usual. Throughout the trip we have all tried to begin the morning with a perfect hard boiled egg, meaning when peeling the shell there should be no scratches or dents in the egg, or egg stuck on to the shell, resulting in a very smooth and well, perfect egg. A perfect egg at breakfast is a good omen and means we will have a great day! Today was someone's lucky day, Costa (Andrea) peeled the perfect egg, so I guess it was the universe wishing him a Happy Birthday!
The hardest and happiest moment of the day was constructing the trampoline - all 75 kg of it that we had transported all the way from Shanghai - but it turned out to be much bigger than I imagined. There were quite a few problems that occurred when building it. This included missing screws, missing holes in the trampoline legs, one side of the ground being higher than the other, and finally the whole thing warping! Argh! The whole process started with Megan, Isabel and I having to level out the ground and this meant using sticks with wooden panels on the bottom and hitting the ground to make it as flat as possible as it was not even. A tough job in the morning heat. Assembling the trampoline was initially easy, until we flipped the page of the manual and it told us to insert the screws in the small holes that were around the base of the trampoline. Two problems: 1. There were no holes whatsoever. 2. There were no screws. We decided we would hurdle that obstacle later and construct it anyway. This was fine, until the whole trampoline warped and bent in on itself after we had attached the springs. Not good. A short break and a quick phone call later and the local Metal Worker arrived and welded it all together. Take that trampoline! We also asked him to make ten huge 2 foot long 'tent pegs' so that we could securely fasten the legs deep into the ground for added stability. We finally finished the job at 5pm just as some of the older children were returning from school. It was so rewarding just seeing the children's bright and happy faces as looked upon this bouncy, springy contraption of happiness. It is no exaggeration to say they had never seen one before, and the wonder in their eyes as they saw their friends bounce amidst so much laughter was super special. And then when they had their first turn on it! I have never seen such ecstasy on faces before... all accompanied with laughter and giggles and pure joy. It made me feel so lucky for what I have.
Just to think that it was the first time any of the children and even the adults had never been on a trampoline or swing before, something so simple, something that we find very usual, was so new to them and made them so happy and excited. It just made me realise how many things, in a day, that we take for granted. This could be something so small as having a varied wardrobe of different clothes, a warm bed or AC in our rooms, or just having the luxury of showering with hot water, and again having a swingset in our back yard. Or what about being transported in a car and knowing we have access to excellent health care? And that is before we even think about 'bigger' things like international travel and seeing the world. I know that from now on whenever I feel that something in my life is not fair or that I want something I can't have, I will just think of all these children. I hope I never lose this sense of perspective.
For me another amazing part of the day was cutting potatoes in small strips to make chips, homemade chips that turned out to be delicious. It is quite amazing to think that the women start their day right after we have had breakfast for lunch and start cooking again when we have ended lunch to be ready in time for dinner. They need that much time to cook dinner as there is a lot needed especially since the children have about double our normal serving, and second of all because there cooking resources are quite low so they have to start the fire as they don't have any gas to cook anything, it all done with wood and charcoal. Every day some of our Dulwich team help the ladies (and Henry the cook) in the kitchen to prepare for meals and to clean up the dishes afterwards. We all enjoy the cooking, but no-one enjoys the dishwashing in cold water! Our task today was to cut eggplants, potatoes and to shell peas. We then helped Cynthia with making the chapatis and we all decided that on Friday night, our last night here, we will make as many chapatis as possible as they are amazing! Aisha, Courtney, Gracy, Amelia and Sophia decided to come and join us... as I said, everyone loves to help in the kitchen. Maybe because they feel that they have to do 'quality control' tests to make sure the chips and chapatis are tasty enough for general consumption!
To end a hot day we all looked at the sky as the sun set for the night. We looked at it, not in the way where we just notice the fact that the sky is beautiful mix of blue, purple and pink, but in a way where we realised that this huge, vast thing connects us all, wherever we are from and wherever we are in the world. I think that will comfort me when I have to leave here at the end of the week.
I guess the egg this morning was right, we did have a perfect day.
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Who are we?
A team working alongside Golden Magezi in Bukinda, Uganda, running an orphanage that provides kids with love, family and an education.