“Ring Ring”, the alarm clock from our respective phones went off. 6.30pm sharp. Thank God for the “snooze” function, as we were saying, we use it ever so often(: We were supposed to leave at 7.30am, but as usual, we left promptly late at 8.00am sharp. This time, it was no fault of ours – 2 of our friends woke up with a fever and hence, decided to stay back to rest in their comfy beds and air-con while the rest of us sweat it out under the sun for the kids.
The ride there was pretty shacked, really. No one spoke much, everyone was more interested in grabbing a bit more sleep. After about an hour on the road, we then started out treacherous journey through the “woods” – “Gidddyyuup Giddyuup”. Everyone was dying to reach the village, no one wanted to get their asses kicked by the rocks no more. Our stomachs were feeling the pinch, our breakfasts were churning in our stomachs.
“Yes! Finally!” everyone shouted as we entered the gates of the village. It was a journey safe and sound, other than a pee-in-the-grass half way through. Our faces radiated this smile that we would not necessarily have had on any other day. But, today, was special. It was rice-soup day, as well as play with kids day(: wooohooo!
Upon arrival at Taom, we were greeted by the sight of the villagers working hard on the library. The skeleton structure was being boarded up as planks were being nailed into place. News came that we were unable to carry out the rice soup programme today because of a miscommunication; instead the womenfolk will be whipping up lunch for the kids and we can still serve the kids lunch.
We had time to spare before lunch. Some of us entered the church where the children were having classes and joined in the fun and games. The young teacher’s voice sounded across the hall, “Up! Down!” The ringing commands were met with obedient cooperation and ended in peals of laughter, chiming throughout the church as Angels’ bells would. It was music to the ears. Seeing those smiles just brought this funny fuzzy feeling to our hearts—like marshmallows melting on the fire. A couple of us wandered off towards the shed where the villagers kept their animals. The two of us had the luxury of experiencing a semblance of what parenthood possibly feels like as we cradled the sleeping puppies in our laps with little kids crowding around us and competing to put their tiny hands on the sleeping puppies.
Lunchtime! We helped carry the piping hot rice soup-filled buckets to the church where the kids obediently queued-up waiting for their food. Their obedience and patience was something that we admired much. When the rice soup bowls were ready to be served, we took the opportunity to serve the well-behaved kids. Surprisingly, they were extremely polite, each either saying “aukun” or “thank you” – impressive, really.
After a while, we noticed that some children were struggling with their bowls. Some kids were too young to eat on their own, some were eating too slowly, as such we decided to take the golden opportunity of feeding these cute kids. SO cute, omggg! They all ate at such a tremendous speed that after about half an hour, the church was empty, all the kids were playing outside and the dogs were already doing the “clearing-up” inside.
Timing was very fluid. After lunch, we had the entire afternoon to spend interacting with the children. Initially, everyone was unsure of what activities to carry out or how to go about engaging the kids in games. How should we break the ice? With a smile? A photo-taking session? Doing the chicken dance and Macarena in increasing rapidness did the trick. We soon had the children collapsing in hilarity. Mirth filled our playground. We never realized the powers a smile and forty pairs of twinkling eyes could do. The sparkle in those large brown eyes simply lifted our spirits by miraculous amounts.
We had a hand in helping the villagers with the construction of the library as well. Unprepared as we were (attire-wise) to lend a hand, everyone eventually got down to work sanding the planks, painting the exterior, and sawing. We also laid the planks out to dry. The problem with this paint-thing is that when it gets on us, we would need turpentine to get it off, how troublesome, purr! But, anything for the kids(:
Nuff! Nuff! Enough painting! We wanted to camwhore and play with the kids so badly. We initially wanted to armwrestle with them like yesterday but then we had more interesting ideas in mind – “scissors, paper, stone” combined with a mix of “pepsi cola 123”; hockey-pokey, twinkle twinkle little stars, the chicken dance, London bridge which surprisingly they knew how to play, and Macarena. Though they probably didn’t understand a word we were saying, it worked. Communication barriers were overcome. In fact, what are communication barriers? They seemed inexistent as we all clapped our hands and stomped our feet. Laughter’s the best medicine to anything; so is a smile (:
Grinning faces, adorable puppies, pungent whiffs of paint, bananas-yet another day awaits. Signing off!