Today was one of those days that reminds me why I really love this volunteering thing. The day was pretty ridiculous but we still managed to get a lot done, get dirty and laugh a lot in the process.
Hands On have committed to building five playgrounds in communities outside Rayenda and today we got cracking on the first of the lot. We loaded up a boat in the morning with bricks and most of our wood only to discover that there was no way it would be able to take the rest of the wood and six volunteers. We wrangled another boat and tried to offload some of the stuff from the first boat but boat guy assured us it would be ok. We relented, boarded the new boat and watched nervously as the overloaded boat floated precariously down the river beside us. It made it there but, damn, it made the journey interesting.
Our journey was about an hour and a bit and I think I was totally duped. We were promised a nice boat ride in the morning, and it was nice. The scenery was stunning and we even had realy cool, massive bats flying overhead at one point. The duped part is that I totally forgot that at the end of the boat ride we’d have to unload and transport craploads of heavy wood. Damn.
One thing I can say about Bangladeshi school children is that they’ve got a lot of energy. They were right in there with us during the transporting of our wood. Some of the little buggers were carrying beams on their heads that I could barely lift! Their help got the job done a million times faster though so yay again to voluntary child labour! Another, unrelated, pretty nasty and totally irrelevant thing I can say about them is that when they pick their noses, they really go for it. There’s no shyness about going for a good ol’ dig up there with an audience.
After our massive wood relocation session most of our day was spent digging holes. Child labour came through again as they got their hands dirty scooping up dirt into bags for us as we dug the holes with some crazy shovel type devices. I’d guess that we had about 100 kids around us as we dug, sang badly and generally acted silly while getting some beams and stuff up in the process. I had a massive crowd around me watching me do… absolutely nothing. Everyone seemed fascinated by my lack of earrings and lack of a nose piercing. Why this attracted a fascinated crowd of over 60 I will never know.
So all up it was a great day. I’m not sure how I feel about this hard work thing but I’m sure I can get used to it. Dealing with a zillion excited kids who want to hang out with you as you swing tools around takes some serious amounts of patience but seeing them so eager and excited to help and knowing that they’ve never even seen a playground before makes me fight the urge to kick them. Just kidding. Sort of.