These past couple of days have been different again – a lovely group of five came over from England and brought the most amazing stuff.
We set up a fantastic kindergarten and took three different classes of 15: we sang, danced, dressed them up, and played with everything from Duplo to toy cars on tracks to home corner and loads more besides.
Each group reacted the same way: we had a translator explaining what to do, but they hadn’t a clue about playing (Duplo? Not a notion; that was my station!), but when you took the time to show them and did it with them, they picked it up and were fine. They had never seen anything like this set up, but they seemed to love it by the end.
When we were packing up, the bigger classes were walking by, and couldn’t believe the array of toys – they all wanted something, even big teenagers looking to take a wee Matchbox car home, but we had to explain that these now belong to the school and will be left for the kids.
The afternoons were spent sewing: the group of ‘English Santas’ brought three sewing machines and the most amazing assembly of bags, cushions, pencil cases, and more, and teachers to show how to make and decorate. The class was after school, and we were told about 40 would be there – we had 95. Each child was given their own duffell-type bag to write and embroider their name on, and then decorate – big 20 year old fellas giving it their all!
You see, the P1 class will have anybody who has never been to school, and that’s why they have all ages in every year – could you even imagine a 16 year old, young tough nut sitting in a P1 class? They speed them through the years if they are fit – they are beginning to realise that education just might be their ticket out or, at the very least, it could change their lives in some way for the better.
We only have a day and a very important half left, and then it’s back to reality, if there will ever be such a thing. Warren needs every minute of the time left to be in a position to leave the new kindergarten ready for the next stage of the build – Jim, the American guy, has done an amazing job on making up all the structural steelwork, and Warren has been taking care of the groundwork, and erecting the steel and hopes to get the floor slab in.
The team have really worked so hard in the baking heat, with no heavy lifting gear except themselves; they ran out of water today on site, which is not much good when you are mixing cement. Everything is difficult, but they are fantastic, and have done a brilliant job.
This has been a real adventure. I hadn’t a notion what to expect from it all: my biggest fear was meeting a big, fat, furry black spider – and cockroaches, snakes, rats, strange food and the lack of it, the language problem, etc – but I have managed grand; I haven’t freaked ‘yet’. I have met some amazing people who I know will be lifelong friends, and heard stories to make your hair stand on end. I have loved this trip and thoroughly enjoyed it all.
I will miss those gorgeous hugs in the mornings, and the most beautiful wee faces, their giggles and singing, and the biggest brightest eyes you have ever seen. I will miss our gorgeous breakfast looking out on the lake, the one with the alligators; I will miss the stress-free existence that I have had for the past three weeks.
Of course, I miss my wee ones, and my lovely pals. I hope I take some of the calmness of this place back home, and I hope I have left a little piece of me right here. I came here to have a look and see if I would like to come back and help out with the charity, and I have been welcomed with open arms everywhere I have been. I am very happy to say we will be very happy to come back in only a few weeks’ time.