You might be surprised to learn that having a playground can make a huge difference in the life of a child. It is even one of the Children’s Rights to be able to play.
Just as they say that work without play makes Jack a dull boy, we sat down together as staffs and the children, brain stormed and come up with the different ideas that can help the children adjusting to life off the streets pass their time, share with others and interact together to try bring peace, unity, cooperation, love. It is important they have time to exercise their bodies physically and mentally. We had an open chat with the children and in this we so much tried to collect as many opinions as possible from the children on how best we can work with them to make good use of their time at the Halfway Home to help them feel comfortable and stop going back to the streets. They chose they needed a playground.
Before the construction of the playground, some few children used not to settle at the Halfway Home for further and extra counselling, since some of them used to run back to the streets after they are brought to the home. We tried to find them during the street walks that we conduct on the streets of Jinja town and understand from them some of the challenges that they found during their stay at our home. Some of them told us that on the streets they are too active for words, so they could find our place not active enough for them. They needed more outdoor games to feel comfortable. This is where we co-developed the idea of the playground for the children in the S.A.L.V.E. programme to benefit. We enjoyed partnering with East African Playgrounds to make the playground and they let both children and staff contribute to the final design of which items were needed through consultation.
The playground has created a very big impact on to the work of S.A.L.V.E. already in the short time it has been there so far. In that it has played a role of reducing those few children who had been dropping off the S.A.L.V.E. Halfway Home due to not enough active games to play – now they can stay and feel contented. It has eased the referral and the counseling work of the Social workers on the streets as it has attracted more children to want to leave the streets and come to stay at our place for further counselling. This also helps our social workers to have more quality time with the children being outside during our counselling sessions. Besides the playground, we also have added some outside games like football and netball. Before this we had volleyball and many other indoor games, which were not enough for our children. We have also seen unity amongst the children under the programme which is so good and this has been as a result of having fun time together at the playground. The children have also learnt to be responsible of what belongs to them and this is by being responsible for the playground and helping us keep it clean and maintained.
A big thanks goes to the sponsors of the construction of the playground, we really appreciate so much for all your efforts, strength, commitments, support, love and trust that you have given in for us and the whole entire life of the children living on the street on Uganda. Thanks from all the children in our Halfway Home who are so much making good use of the play ground, but not also to forget children from the community and nearby schools whom we welcomed to come and play so the children can learn to share and be together as one. This helps in making the children under rehabilitation know that they are not rejected, but they are part of the community setting that they live in and also show them that they are valued and cared for by them.
THANK YOU SO MUCH OUR SUPPORTERS FOR THE HEART OF CARING FOR THE CHILDREN ON THE STREET.