Well…we’re still building. In fact, we’re building even more! In the past three weeks we have built 4 playgrounds around the Lubombo region, and started a fifth one just today. That's a quite a few long hot days and nights sleeping on concrete floors, but it has definitely been worth all the effort, including the day it tipped 101° in Ntandweni. I'm a little biased, but I would say our playground at the neighborhood care point in Maphatsindvuku has been the best so far! That's completely outside of our doing though, we had a lot of great people come and give their time, energy, and spare materials during our two day build.
We built a smaller version of the playground than what was initially designed because most of the kids are between the ages of 3 and 5, but they play harder than most kids their senior. Now, instead of playing with shoe cars and imaginary tea sets, they have swings, a tire swing, two mini towers, and soon some fun and games on a learning wall! It's been a long time since we facilitated and participated in the playground training in July but it's all come together now and it's a wonderful thing. I really don't know how to explain what it's like seeing kids playing on something built specifically for them for the first time, some of you parents out there will undoubtedly remember, but it's a fascinating thing to see a group of happy kids start defining themselves through play. Some are adventurous, fearless, and bold while others are timid, cautious, and careful. Some become great pushers while others become great swingers. Eventually they all level out, the bold helping the timid figure out the ladder, the swingers reciprocating the efforts of the pushers on the tire swing. (The tire swing is apparently much less intimidating, I seem to remember most injuries of my childhood on the tire swing however…) The whole playground becomes a beautiful chaos of tiny children with huge smiles. A cacophony of laughter and screams and short siSwati phrases that seem to me to say “Let's do that again!”. It's amazing to watch, exhausting to get in the middle of, and wonderful to reflect on at the end of the day. We can only really say thank you to all those people who came out to help us, brought us something to make the job easier, or let us play with them for a couple days while we worked around them. (We’ve learned beep beep is the best child speak for excuse me)
Speaking of thank you’s though we had another great time this week as we passed out 500 bookmarks at the primary school! It was the final cap to a very rewarding library project, and the bookmarks were distributed just in time because we got a call earlier this week saying the librarian is ready to commence the check out process! (Keep our librarian in your prayers because supervising that process for 500 students and teachers with no experience is a Herculean task, one which she is so excited to take on!) We handed out the bookmarks grade by grade at assembly with the help of a few teachers and it was a great sight seeing proud children with bookmarks overhead ready to read! So thank you very very much to Make Collins and all of the family and friends who helped craft and put a little love in 500 bookmarks! Siyabonga kakhulu kakhulu!!!