Jump for joy
I met Kathy Gau as a Peace Corps trainee during a permaculture workshop that she was facilitating for Peace Corps. Since then, I have been placed to work up in the Hhohho region, near Vusumnotfo and have been working with Kathy to identify projects that we can work on together. When Kathy asked me to go out to Cetjwayo to observe the playground building site I wasn’t sure what to expect or write about. Then I started thinking about what I would want to know if I gave to a Global Giving project and was reading the report about what my money was doing. Here is what I have come up with to confirm, that indeed, as an outside observer visiting for a few hours one day, you have identified and invested in a worth while project that is already impacting the Cetjwayo Community.
When we arrived in Cetjwayo, after about and hour spent negotiating dirt roads that had been washed out the night before in a huge storm (this place is rural), I wasn’t sure that I would be able to report the way I wanted to about the playground project. Then I started talking to boBabe (the men) and boMake (the women) about the plan for the playground and my worries were eased.
This playground is being constructed alongside a bunch of other projects for this preschool, including a pit latrine and three new classrooms. This explains the huge piles of construction materials piled up around the school grounds. After all of these projects have been completed this will be an amazing place of learning for the young kids in Cetjwayo preparing for primary school.
Babe Patrik Mkhonta walked me through the plan for the playground and then, Garth, and Babe Sibusiso Mahlalela joined him in getting the construction for the playground started for the day. All three of these men work for Kathy to get these playground projects started in the community.
Babe Mkhonta (in the blue) explained that there would be a climbing area, progressively smaller tires stacked on one another stabalized with a pole in the center and ropes coming down the pile for kids to use when they are climbing, that would be surrounded by and lead into a sand pit so that if the kids fall they won’t get hurt. The climbing pile will be on the far right of the stakes showing in this picture. Tire swings will be in the structure that you can see constructed here already, also with sand under them.
When talking to Babe Mkhonta about how all of this work would get done, specifically the digging for the sand pit he told me that he hopes that some community members would step up to help, but that he wasn’t sure. After only a short forty five minutes of work measuring, digging holes for posts, shoveling gravel and sand, and nailing, some women that had been sitting around the pre school stepped up to help dig out the sand pit. They were joined shortly after they started working by another Babe from the community. Coming from a community setting, and understanding how hard it can be to motivate a community to help itself, especially when there are outside people there who could potentially do all the work, this was a very telling moment. This community was well chosen for this playground. The preschool is being updated, and the community is invested enough in this school and it’s young kids that they are willing to put in the manual labor to help improve it as much as they can.
I am happy to see progress coming along so quickly on this playground. Even in the short time I was there the playground was transformed from some staked and blocked off squares and rectangles, with piles of dirt, sand, and gravel in the surrounding area, to an emerging playground with all of the things that I loved to play with during recess while I was growing up. More supplies were pulled out of storage in the school, protected from the storm the night before, and I could see the vision and impact of this new play area.
I look forward to seeing the final product in use.
Play before finished
Layout of playground