On Friday we set out before sunrise to pick up all the playground elements and supplies and head to Adjumani. The road was so bumpy, both of us were worried about the stuff falling to pieces in the back of the truck. Luckily it all remained intact! When the kids saw us coming, they were so excited. They all helped us to unload the equipment and supplies. I’ve never seen anyone so happy to unload a truck full of stuff. The children are so eager to help – as soon as we began digging, they ran and got their shovels and joined us. The past few days have been incredible. We all worked hard and every little bit of progress was so rewarding. The playground is nearing completion and everyone is very excited!
As we built, I remembered how a few weeks ago, we met someone who shared something very encouraging with us. We were at a restaurant in Senior Quarters, which is kind of like the quiet, dusty, Muzungo area of Gulu. We were greeted by a man whom we had met a while back when we were trying to find a place to stay. He began asking us more about what we had told him the first time we met, that we are here to build playgrounds. So, we told him how our first project is in Adjumani District, near the refugee settlements. Reza asked Jesse if he had ever been to the refugee camps. Jesse said that he used to live in a camp himself, here in Northern Uganda. Reza asked if it was when Adi Amin was in power and Jesse replied “No.. Not then. And Adi Amin.. He wasn’t too harsh anyway”. He said it was the lords resistance army, also known as rebels, in the civil conflict with the government of Uganda from 2000-2005. He told us how when he lived in the camp, there were lots of people that came. Some of these people built playgrounds, and they brought things for the children to play with. They brought soccer balls, kids toys, games. He told us how much of a difference this made for the children in the camp. He said that the soccer games, the playgrounds, the playing, kept the children occupied, happy with their friends instead of being idle, or in the streets putting their lives at risk. It was really incredible to hear a firsthand account of the impact that play had on children in hard times. It was a special moment and we thanked him for sharing, and off he went.
We used these heavy poles to break through rock…
Before we left Canada I came across a quote by Lilla Watson: “If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together”. To me, this hits on the deepest truth that remains hidden to us underneath the illusion of separateness: We are all connected. We only appear as separate on the surface but if one person in this world suffers, we all suffer. It’s not about us and them. Its about Us, We, as a whole, the human race in its entirety. So, let us work together. And, let us play together too!