Today was fun. It was meaningful, rewarding, and full….but the best description would be fun! I suppose that means we accomplished our goal as today was listed on our itinerary as “Bhobokazi Fun Day”. Every year we are here we throw as big a party as we can just to celebrate and create as much joy as we can for these incredible children. Our plan this year was to throw a giant birthday party. Most of these kids don’t ever have an actual birthday party and a bunch of them don’t even know their birthdates. So we decided to do our best to make every child feel special and celebrate the day they were born.
We spent a lot of time planning and organizing our day knowing that the place would be pretty crazy. With 150 kids on site any logistics we plan takes time….and because the the kids are still in school and most arrive around lunch time we only had a short time to party hard. I don’t know why we are so optimistic, but when Carolyn explained the way we would try and organize our day on the bus before stepping foot onto the grounds, it sounded so simple and orderly and peaceful 🙂
Well….today would not be described as these things in any way…ha ha. It was crazy….but we all would agree it was the best kind of crazy. Picture 150 children icing their own cake and having free access to sprinkles to decorate them. Put paint in the hands of tables full of kids attempting to make a special gift for their special friends back in Canada. Imagine a smoking BBQ grilling up giant sausages for 200 people. Picture countless little ones (like really little ones) being tossed over a climbing wall into the bouncy castle laughing and jumping in 34 degree sweltering heat.
Every child had the opportunity to light a candle on their cake and have happy birthday sung to them…the entire day was littered with singing happy birthday over and over to groups of children so that every one of them had a chance to blow out their candles….right until the very last 16 year old girl who arrived late and had a crowd of Canadians singing at the top of their lungs as she stood there with a single cupcake and candle to celebrate her so she wouldn’t be missed.
It is hard to even describe the chaos & noise of the day….in fact one team member described being caught in a “vortex of cupcakes & crafts” as streams of kids kept piling in through the door after we thought the groups were finished. All we can say is that in midst of it all we had fun! We had many many moments of feeling like we connected face to face with our precious Bhobokazi kids and were able to make them feel like they were the most important people in the world to us.
Then we had a chance to witness some incredible performances by the kids at the carepoint that they had prepared for us….a few songs from the young choir that brought many of us to tears, a traditional Swazi dance performed by the 5&6 year olds that had the entire room hooting and hollering and whooping, a comedy skit performed by the older boys that had everyone in stitches, and an incredibly meaningful handwritten message spoken to us by one of the young budding leaders of the care point to express their gatitude to Riverwood. If you want to read these words you can find them here: words-of-gratitude
We had the opportunity to give every child a wrapped & decorated present with some of the gifts provided by our sponsors in their care packages! What an awesome privilege for us. Every child received a new t-shirt printed for their Bhobokazi care point as well as their Canada hats and umbrellas. What fun to see their excitement to receive a special gift and to see them take joy in their connection to Canada 🙂
Arriving back at our guest house our team was exhausted. We spent the day running & crazily pulling off this giant birthday party in sweltering heat. Its quite amazing that you can drink 15 water bottles in 7 hours and still not use the washroom once! After wolfing down some incredible BBQ’d burgers for supper, a few of us decided to try the small pool on site for the first time this trip. We were nervous as you can’t really see the bottom of the pool and wondered what might be living in there, but the promise of a refreshing swim was calling too much to care. Four of us decided to give it a go and all I can say is that within about 12 minutes we had a giant Canadian Swazi pool party in full swing. After being dared by one another, Rachel & Mary decided to jump still fully clothed….and this had a domino effect….before you knew it the peer pressure was too much and we had about 15 people in a tiny pool. As is typical around this time of the trip, overtired & emotionally spent Canadians start to act a bit weird….and well….we leave you with this to close our day….thanks for being a part of it!