3 months ago, we asked for your help.
In preparation of my upcoming trip, we discussed and planned for the priorities my visit at Mogra Rescue Centre would have. Beyond the necessary meetings, discussions, child updates, etc... we knew we wanted to bring these children some joy.
My trip was scheduled to take place while the children were on a 'winter' break from school in Kenya. Back in here in Canada, families were on holidays, camping trips, etc... wrapping up their summer break, and we thought it would be nice to have a similar celebration for the Mogra kids.
You see, it isn't just enough to feed and clothe a child. Here in the western world, our society understand the value of fun, relaxation, extra curricular activity, and experiences We live to play, and we truly understand the impact of play, discovery and sensory activities on the development of a child's brain. Understanding is half the battle though. Having the opportunity and ability to provide that is another thing.
So while we work to support Mogra in helping them provide for these children on a daily basis, we knew we could give them a little something more this month, that they wouldn't otherwise have the chance to do.
I put out the plea for bathing suits, and you overwhelmed me! My last count came in at over 330 suits!! We only needed suits for 150 children, but as you probably know, it's not always easy finding one that fits properly (for the girls that is), so we asked for extras. The extras ensured that the children were able to find a suitable fitting suit, and will be kept in storage at Mogra to be used as the children grow and as more children come in. Swim suits has been the main stumbling block for past volunteers who have wanted to take the children swimming. The fact that they now have them, will ensure that they have the opportunity to go many more times in the future.
I was fortunate to be able to share this day with my 2 travel companions; Shirley, a Social Worker who sponsors 2 of the Mogra children, and the other, Annie, a nursing student at Guelph who also, upon her return home, now sponsors a child as well. Shirley attended to the children who needed some extra love or time away from all the excitement, and Annie jumped right in with the older girls, riding the rides with them and was a huge help in the pool.
The children were lined up according to age, a head county was done and they were given team leaders and instructions. 150 is a lot of children to organize, but they were so unbelievably well behaved, it wasn't much trouble.
The children entered the park youngest to oldest and started to board the rides. Many of which were manually propelled, and a couple that were really wild!
The younger children started singing in unison on the 'Swan' and 'Car' ride. Voices full of joy and faces that beamed. (You will see this for yourself below!!)
The older kids were giggling and laughing... with first time feelings of 'butterflies', as they rode on the swings.
The Doctor and I had a good conversation about the importance of these type of activities. Many of the children could really benefit from the stimulation and sensory experience, from a medical stand point - not to mention that having fun and laughter is just good for the soul!
After the rides, the kids all sat down for a meal of French Fries, Sausage and a Soda. I have mentioned before that the home can only afford meat weekly, and Soda Pop is obviously never purchased by the home - but brought in by volunteers for special occasions. So this meal in itself was also a very nice treat for the children. (A few of the older boys had fun making me squirm when they opened their bottles of Soda with their teeth - boys! :)
Quote from one of the older girls: "Tomorrow we will wake full of joy, good memories, and a story to tell."
The children 6 and over stayed while the younger ones returned to the home for a nap. Because of the number of children, we transported the boys to different location to swim. Unfortunately, I didn't get an opportunity to witness the boys swimming, but I got a full report and many pictures.
The older girls were the most excited, and honestly, I never even saw them eat. I think they inhaled their food and then ran to get their suits on. 2 large suitcases of just girl suits were spread amongst 2 tables, and they all dove in. Imagine 60-70 girls trying to find a suit that fits all at once! They were quick and efficient, but it was like a tornado that you could only observe from the outside. They had their method, and we were not much help aside from a few 'size' suggestions.
Never having worn swim suits before, many had no idea how to wear them. You will see how creative they all got... Some didn't even take the tags off. The goal was to just get in the water; the minor details... well, they really don't matter.
It was then that I heard the largest commotion going on at the next pool. The big girls had entered. (Some of these 'girls' are as old as 20.) What happened next, I had never seen anything like in all my life.
To give you some context, imagine never having the experience of being in water. No bath tubs, no swimming pools... You 'bathe' with water out of pail, or shower if you are lucky. For those of you with children of your own, what do babies do when experiencing a pool or a bath for the first time? They splash. Open hands, or fists, they slap the water.... splashing themselves in the face. It's exciting, so they splash more and more until they lose their breath. This. This is exactly what these girls did. They explored 'water' for the first time, just as we all do, regardless of age - by splashing. There was so much splashing, that despite the distance I kept to save my camera from water damage, I got soaked from the waist down!
I'll leave you to see the rest for yourself with some videos and pictures that I have compiled into a video. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do... I witnessed this first hand, but still could watch this video 100 times more, and every time I get 'happy tears'. The joy this gave this children, is so apparent and truly hard to put in words. Bottle up all your childhood joy and release it all at once. Amazing! Simply amazing! I still am astounded by this. We just do not experience the same level of joy here, we just don't. So to experience something like this was really remarkable and I will never forget it. A simple $5 is all it cost to give each child a day they will never forget!
Thank you for providing them with this opportunity, the swimming sponsorship, suit donations and luggage fee donations. You made this all possible. I am so honored and privileged to have been a part of it.
If you would like to sponsor one of these lovely children and be a part of bringing them 'joy' please see here.