As adult’s we often reminisce back to the good old days when we were children and those sun-shiny days spent at the park. We remember playing with our friends, whizzing down the slide, seeing who can swing the highest and the amazing sense of freedom as we darted to one thing to the next with childish giggles and laughter filling the air.
We are fortunate to have these memories but what if you don’t have the opportunity to commit those thoughts and experiences to memory? Well this is the stark reality for the children here.
Some we find wandering the streets as young as 2 years old with no adult in sight, some sit and stare as we go by but the one thing they have in common is the longing to be a child. To be able to run, laugh and play to be scooped up and swung round.
We broke the news of the trip to the park to a torrent of squeals of anticipation and excitement. A bus ride, a picnic, and a play at the park was definitely something they looked forward to.
As we left the City we were amazed at how many of the children had never left the Zone in which they lived let alone the City. One little girl Juanita, stared out of the back of the bus for the entire journey soaking everything up like a sponge. Another girl asked “Is this England?” having absolutely no concept of time, space, or distance.
Arriving in the park the kids got off the bus. Some ran with arms flailing around above their heads, some sheltered behind the leg of an adult with uncertainty, some meandered slowly their heads swivelling like an owl.
We toured the park and admired it’s beauty. Becky dropped her phone into the water below the bridge she was crossing then claims to have been bitten by a Terrapin as she retrieved it! Hmmmmm???
We entered a small animal enclosure and watched how the children picked up rabbits, stroked goats and fed chickens.
Of course we had to have an English picnic which they all really enjoyed – even the egg mayo sandwiches. But, although it was great to see them genuinely enjoying food, we were also very much aware of the unselfish act being conducted as they squirrelled away food into pockets for brothers, sisters & parents for later on.
We had organised games and activities but the reality was that the kids were just enjoying the freedom we have all experienced and take for granted.
We sat back and watched as the wind blew their hair, as they ran without a care in the world and as their laughter filled the air.
All too soon it was time to head back to the bus and to the city. Back to the terminal and to the realities of life. But just for a few hours they got the chance to just be a child for the day.