By Riel Beaumont-Boulanger
On Friday morning we set about flattening the ground for the playground that we had planned to build for the children. We were working in the shadow of the building that at the end of last year's trip was only a frame of what The Peace Centre is now. Providing love, care and a home for twenty kids. It is strange, yet satisfying, to see how this is now a fully fledged home and no longer rusty red bricks piled up waiting to be cemented. Putting in a playground seemed incomprehensible at the end of last year's project.
This morning, before heading off for a night's reflection at a nearby island Eco Resort, our task was to install the swing for the playground. We had to dig four holes three feet deep - not an easy task! - and then carry sand, water, cement and small rocks to make a solid base for the swing. We don't want kids flying off into orbit because the base isn't properly secured! It was exciting to see the playground actually starting to look like a playground. A place that I am sure would be frequented by the TPC children and most likely other children from the village for years to come. Putting in a playground is something that is new to the village. Now instead of only playing with a football in the alleys around the village they will have a place to play and laugh and enjoy themselves.
At around 9am that morning an old man walked down the hill onto the lawn in front of Peace and Golden's house. With him he brought a small girl who we later learned was called Angela. She had been brought by her elderly guardian to be enrolled in TPC. After he had done the entrance interview with Peace, we discovered that he, a shoemaker who works in the locals markets, had found about her wrapped up in a blanket in the market when she was a baby. After taking care of her for nearly ten years he was aware that he was ageing and would not be able to take care of her for ever. It was already proving tough for him to pay her school fees and she was already three or four years behind in school, a ten year old in Primary 2 amongst six year olds, instead of with her peers in Primary 6. (This is commonplace here though... when we visited the Primary School last week we found an eighteen year old in Prinary 7!) He had heard about TPC and seen the work we were doing with orphans and wanted to see if little Angela was eligible as he did not want to see her fall behind any more in school. There will be a home inspection next week and the old shoemakers credentials checked prior to a final decision being made.
With the swing up, we boarded a bus and drove through Kabale town to get to the dock to board a wooden boat to cross Lake Bunyonyi to get to Govenor's Island and the Eco Resort. The change of scenery from the village was quite nice. The calm, cool atmosphere of the lake was a refreshing change from busy life in the village. The lake looked amazing at sunset with a nice breeze coming off of it. I went swimming with Nicky, Aisha and Courtney, and Mr Reich got some good pictures of us jumping into the lake. We caught some good air time!
That evening we all sat around a lovely log fire and shared some reflections with the group about how this trip has impacted us so far and what we has surprised us the most. Many of us talked about the warmth of the children, the speed at which they are learning English and their innate joy. Others shared about the things they take for granted back home when confronted with what little many in the world get by on. It was a good time of sharing. Being in completely unmodified nature like this is something that is rare coming from Shanghai which is busy, polluted and loud, and it was refreshing to be here.
It has been a really great week in Uganda; the travelling, the building, the developing relationships, the playing with the kids and the relaxation time have all been super enjoyable.
Who are we?
A team working alongside Golden Magezi in Bukinda, Uganda, running an orphanage that provides kids with love, family and an education.