The plan was to take twenty Grade 10 Arise orphans (15-16 year olds) to Nsobe for three days of camping. However, when the day arrived, the rain came which meant we had to change our plans. What?? In Africa the sun is supposed to shine!
Due to a day and a half of heavy rain, what was meant to be camping in tents changed to camping at school! Unfortunately not all of our tents would have been waterproof, activities would have been restricted and the roads would have been bad. Not only that, but the rain put some children off and most ended up arriving pretty late.
We fit as many activities in on Monday as we could - playing team games, talks and Bible study, singing round the campfire, toasting marshmallows, watching a film with popcorn, and even decorating t-shirts (which my friend Ang had kindly brought all the way from Asda in the UK).
The funniest moment of the day came when I was trying to teach all the kids how to play rounders. We'd set up a pitch and I believed I'd managed to explain the rules quite clearly. It then became apparent that I'd missed one small detail out, when the first batter hit the ball and the whole team ran around the pitch! It looked so funny, I wish I'd caught it on camera. However, they picked up the game quickly and I was impressed that many of them were very good at it - we seemed to have lots of natural sportsmen and sportswomen!
There were several talks during the day which provided a good opportunity to encourage the children. (Even I did a talk! My grandpa Howard, the preacher, would have been proud!) We taught the children that the Bible says they are loved, they are important and they are part of a family, which is different to what many of them have experienced in their lives.
I really enjoyed looking after the children and spending time with them. They were extremely polite, helpful and appreciative. They didn't have to be asked to wash up but would just get on and do it. I was also amazed that when I announced it was bedtime, none of them made a fuss and they all went straight to bed. I am pretty sure I didn’t used to do that when I was a teenager!
One of the days was a bit drier so we piled into two minibuses and headed to Nsobe for the day. The kids absolutely loved it. There were so many new experiences for them. At the end of the trip we asked them to tell us what they had enjoyed. Hearing their responses made me shed a tear or two! Most of them enjoyed seeing the lake because they had not seen such a large expanse of water before. They also loved seeing some of the animals and holding snakes, which they'd never had the chance to do before.
It is hard for us to imagine how unusual things like that are for them, compared to their 'normal' life. Even sleeping on the classroom floor was luxurious for many because it was spacious and warm. We fed them up as much as possible - nshima and chicken for lunch, rice and sausages for dinner, plus bananas, lollies and sweets. I don't think any of them turned any food down.
|Catherine, our cook|
Unfortunately we had a very long journey home because there was so much traffic. We dropped most of the children off near where they live but decided that four of them should stay over at AQ (where Rosie and I live), because it would be too far to walk in the dark. One boy lives on a small farm about an hour's walk from the road. The road is 11km from Kaniki so this gives you an idea of just how far he has to walk to get to school!
AQ, which is reasonably basic to us, seemed like more of a hotel for the children. The four who were staying were so excited to find out that they would have a bed to sleep on. The following morning I was woken up at 5:30am by them sweeping the corridor outside my room! I didn't have the heart to ask them to stop sweeping and be quiet so that I could sleep! They swept the whole house and did all of our washing up, and we hadn’t even asked.
Our camping experience certainly turned out different to what we'd planned but it still achieved the purpose - to make sure the children had lots of fun, some new experiences, get to know each other better and hear that they are loved by God.