We had the whole day to play with the children and we took a variety of things to entertain them. Our carefully constructed sashes, for sports-team identification, were quickly redesigned and by the end of the day most faces were crowned with brightly coloured headbands. We also took colouring and the children enjoyed having their names written out to fill in the letters; we began to find our artistic leanings: I discovered a gift for drawing cats and Tom got into a groove of open plan houses.
In groups of four to a house, we had lunch cooked for us by the house mothers and were treated to a feast prepared in a five-foot-square kitchen in a charcoal stove. My group were presented with fried bananas, flat breads, rice, chicken, meat stew, peas, cabbage, matoke (a kind of cooked mashed banana dish), peanut sauce and, to our amazement and delight, roast potatoes. All this for a family of eight and four guests. Tom was keen to acquire some Acholi and asked the words for various dishes: peas, bananas, potatoes. His attention turned to the water, what was the name in Acholi? Piie! (pee!) It was with difficulty that the four of us maintained politely straight faces.
After lunch, while the guys kicked a ball around with the children, some of us were painting faces. A butterfly theme soon emerged and we were all surrounded by a pressing mass of bodies and elbows were jogged as the children crowded in to be next in line. It was a joy to touch their faces and to offer something colourful to their lives. I am no great painter and feel the pressure easily, our group host was keen for us to leave on time and, with so many queueing, I was working fast so my butterflies lacked a certain artistic flair. However, every time a child was handed the mirror to inspect my handiwork, their face transformed from concentration to delight and while my efforts were no great works of art, I was assured byt the grins that they were good enough.
The children were fascinated with our cameras and sunglasses, overjoyed with the balloons and balls we gave, eager to hold our hands and to be carried and many of us found that one or two individuals had crept into a special place in our hearts. We were thanked time and again for coming to help, bless, build for and love them and yet it was us who were truly blessed.