On our last day of AIDS Walk Africa- We had the opportunity to help build a playground structure and a shelter area next to a clinic. These structures will be very important in helping mothers wait at the clinic, sometimes all day, to be seen. They will have an area out of the blistering summer sun to wait under the shelter and their children will have an area to exert all of their energy. This will likely hold a great impact in mother's staying to wait for their treatments and as a result will lead to more success in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS!
partially constructed playarea BEFOREMom, Casey and I all knew immediately that we would like to work together in the playarea. Like all mothers, I could really relate to the mothers needing a place for their kids to play! I also knew that the children would absolutely adore such a play area here in this part of the world where it is truly rare. So, we got right to building with 6 other walkers. The lead constructioner, Luciano, with his strong cultural beliefs had doubts about our ability as women to be helpful in this endeavor. Well, we all showed him as women that we are more than capable! My first task was to bolt the preconstructed slide to the pre-constructed structure. This had its issues with lack of power tools, but I got the job done. Then I worked on nailing all the steps up the playstructure to complete the stairs. As I did this I was tried very hard to make sure it was as exact as possible and used my own hand to measure the distance between steps!
At the same time Casey was working on nailing in the floor of the playarea, a very time consuming and tedious task! He did a great job! Mom took on the challenge of putting together an oil drum crawl through structure. She did great constructing it and bolting it all together. Later Mom and I crawled inside those very greasy oil drums and wiped them clean of the sand, oil and grime. It was quite a task, but I can know say I would let my own children crawl through..it is that clean. Casey, Mom and I all did alot of painting. The paint was very thin and they pigmented it themselves. Unfortunately, we didn't have primer to really make the paint stay in the elements, but alas, we did the best possible with the resources we had!
In the end it was a most amazing build. Our team has left behind a wonderful play area. But what was so magnificent about this day, was in the afternoon when the children who had been anxiously waiting for us to complete the project were able, at last, to climb up those stairs and slide down the slide, they swang on the swings with delight, they crawled through the oil drums and teetered on the teeter-totter as if flying.
At the end of the day, we met the King's brother and other chiefs of the area were present. The local chief also honored all the elders of the group....I call this part, "Mom's senior moment" where she was wrapped in the traditional batiq wrap in front of the entire group with the rest of the elders from our group. It was a wonderful way to honor elders....frankly, I think we should take that tradition back home.
Having had the opportunity to leave something behind in Swaziland, Africa gives me such joy. Every bit of work I put in to my fundraising and spreading the word about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Swaziland has in the end giving me so more. Now THAT is a beautiful gift I never fully expected.