Hello again from deepest Uganda. For the last six days I have been living and working at the BMK primary school in the village of Budoma, near Iganga. The school was set up in 2003 by a peasant farmer and his wife, and now caters for about 800 children, more than 200 of whom are orphans.
East African Playgrounds has been running a project to support this wonderful school by building a playground out of scrap metal and running a series of sport and art programmes. I am now halfway through my time in Africa reporting on the work the charity is doing, and it has already been an unforgettable experience.
Having arrived at Entebbe and travelled through the madness of Kampala, my second day – arriving at the BMK school – could not have been more different. A seemingly never-ending road, cracked and broken and full of crater-sized potholes, gives way to an expanse of land which has been transformed into an educational facility.
The next few days flew by in a blur of sandpaper, paintbrushes, mud, heat and the most spectacular thunderstorms imaginable. The work of EAP will be familiar to many people by now, but it is impossible to appreciate just how much goes into a project until you see it for real.
The volunteers work incredibly hard in difficult conditions to construct the playground, but the most heartening and emotional aspect is their interaction with the children. They are bright, energetic and curious young people, unaware of their place in the world and bursting to get their hands on their new toys.
As I was painting one of the structures on Sunday, I sat and watched two boys – perhaps six or seven years old – playing intently with an old tyre and a wooden stick. EAP’s mission statement is that every child has the right to play – but more than that, it seems that every child has the instinct and desire to play, no matter where they are or what their situation.
The playground behind the BMK school is now almost complete, and promises to be a welcome burst of colour in a far-off corner of this extraordinary continent.
We now have a few days of down time in Jinja – where many of us are utilising the WiFi and hot running water – before we head back to BMK on Wednesday to finish off the playground. It will be officially opened during a special celebration on Friday.