However, today was a special day
. Today was the last day of term before the kids went off for their summer holidays. So all thoughts of work, computers and admin went out the window and we traveled up to Khao Lak to join in the end-of-term party! Apparently the children were really excited when they found out we were coming for the party…. but I doubt that they could have been more excited than Tom, if he could have got there at 6am he would have done. Tom has also been designing his mural for the nursery; he has decided to go for a tropical underwater theme and he hoped to get some of it sketched out on the walls today while the kids had their nap.
We arrived as the children were having their lunch- it was noodles and vegetables today, which they tucked into with gusto. After they had finished eating they all settled down for their afternoon nap and we had lunch with the nursery nurses again. We quickly realized that it would be impossible for Tom to draw his mural on the walls while the children slept because he would have to step around them all without waking any of them up. So we gave up on that plan and went for a quick visit to a local waterfall for a couple of hours. The waterfall was beautiful and, as it was a searing hot day, we were grateful to go for a little paddle in the cool water. Later we headed back to the nursery to find the kids had all woken up and were ready to party! Because it was their last day, they were allowed to watch their favourite nursery rhymes and cartoons on the TV
. Within 2 minutes all the children were dancing and singing at the top of their voices. They were so beautiful and had the biggest smiles you can imagine. While they were busy singing, Tom snuck off to try and start drawing out the mural but they kids wouldn’t let him get away that easy! Two children saw what he was doing and the next thing we knew Tom was surrounded by a group of about 15 kids all clambering over him trying to see what he was up to. They were climbing onto his knee, pulling his arms, jumping all over him. He let them look at the plan he had made on the laptop and suddenly the children understood what he was doing; he was drawing the pictures from the laptop on to the walls! I have never seen such a look of amazement and joy come across children’s faces like I did at that moment. They were so excited all they could do was scream and roll around on the floor laughing. One of the nursery workers came over and spoke to the kids in Burmese and she told us that they were so happy, all they could say was: "He’s going to paint fishes on the walls!". If the kids weren’t in the party mood before they certainly were now!
The nursery worker told them to leave Tom to his work, so they all pounced on me instead and pulled me back to the main room where the nursery rhymes were being played. Before I knew what was happening I had children climbing all over me, laughing, trying to talk Burmese to me, showing me their dance moves, rolling around on the floor
. The sound of their laughter was deafening. Then I made a rather ominous decision. I decided to take my camera out to get some photos. Now I had no idea how much these kids loved cameras, if I had of done than I might have waited before taking my camera out while they were climbing all over me. For the next 3 hours I did nothing other than take photos of the kids and then see the look of delight on their faces when I showed them their own photo. It was such a simple thing, but they just went crazy for it. They would climb all over me to get sight of the screen and when they saw a photo of themselves or their friends they would laugh until I thought they were going to fall over. I was mobbed with kids! One of the other volunteers was in exactly the same position as I was; I looked over and she was laughing her socks off while having about 10 children hysterically climbing all over her. Even though I didn’t speak their language, even though I didn’t know their names and even though I will never understand the difficult lives they have already lived, I was able to make them happy with something as simple as a camera. They laughed until they couldn’t breath and I have never felt to so proud of myself; giving them a couple of hours worth of happiness is one of the best things I have ever done. After a couple of hours my face was so sore from laughing and smiling so much and I had a really bad headache, but I didn’t care, after having such a difficult start to the week it was just nice to be smiling again.
A couple of times I would sneak back into the other room to see Tom, only to find that he had been mobbed by kids again; at one point I couldn’t actually see Tom sitting on the floor because they had climbed all over him. Every now and then I would hear a muffled laugh from Tom and I presumed he was okay underneath the mountain of children
! At the end of the day the kids were taken outside for their last playtime before they caught the school bus home. Despite hardly having enough money to feed the children a regular lunch, the charity we are volunteering for managed to find some extra cash to give the children an end-of-term treat; as they were getting ready to go home they all got a carton of milk, a little piece of cake and a fruit biscuit. Then we got to play with the children for a while before the school bus came to collect them. It was an amazing day which we will never forget.
I can’t say thank you enough to the children and nursery workers for letting me be part of their day, they showed me laughter and hope when I felt like I had run out of both.
P.s. there are more photos to come, so check back soon.
After our visit to the children's nursery and school at the start of the week, we have decided to stay at the charity longer than we originally planned; we had planned to stay for 2 weeks, but we’re going to stay for a month instead. It is such a good cause that we want to give it as much of our time as possible. Now that we are here we are starting to get a much better idea of what needs to be done at the charity and we are really happy to have been given our own little jobs and responsibilities; Tom’s jobs are to fix all the broken computersJ, help to make a new website and to design a mural to be painted at the nursery and my job is to develop the charity’s first ever Sponsor a Child program. We will be based at the office in Phuket for most of the week and then will travel up to the nursery once a week to do any jobs up there that need doing. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but it feels good to be using our brains again after all this time.