CAIRO: In the morning the place looked like a relaxed picnic. People sat in groups on blankets, enjoying a sunny day in the small Maadi garden. A group of late teens and 20-somethings were chatting, playing football or trying their hands at a game of tug of war.
If it wasn t for the popcorn and cotton candy corner, the trampoline on the far side of the garden, and the colorful wooden booth with boxes of toys, it would have been difficult to imagine how prepared the place was for a full-fledged children’s day.
But it was more than prepared. The 60 enthusiastic orphans who entered the garden around midday had a lot of activities to choose from.
At the celebration of Universal Children’s Day, organized by 4 Our Kidz NGO last weekend, there were many ways to connect with the children through games and competitions. The children’s initial attraction to the trampoline was quickly replaced by their vivacious curiosity to explore the other corners.
Hanaa, a 13-year-old resident of the Ahbab Allah Orphanage, was initially hesitant to hold a piece of paper and a paint brush. “I can’t draw, she said. “I can only color.
A few minutes later, following slight encouragement, she was busy drawing a tree and a flower. While most of her friends were lining up at the ever-appealing trampoline or at the popcorn and cotton candy corner, she was lost in her humble painting. At the end, she held it up proudly posing for a picture documenting this small achievement.
The boys were a different story. As some engaged in water fights, others played football. And after getting their face painted, they were eager to get their picture taken with the toys they won throughout the day.
In the midst of the buzz of these energetic children, the organizers miraculously managed to get them to take a break – twice. The first time they sat in half circle to watch the magician and the second in small groups for lunch.
The initial plan was for every person or family to adopt a child for the day, participating in all competitions and games as “family units. While there weren’t enough people to achieve this, the children were still able to bond with the volunteers at the celebration.
By the end of the day, the organizers and the visitors got to know more than the children’s name, tapping into their lives and learning about their interests.
The initial aim of the event was to make sure each child receives individual attention, which was achieved, albeit in a slightly different way.
Because the number of children was relatively small, it was easier to interact with them on a more personal level.
At the end of the day, as the children hopped on the bus taking them back to the orphanage, the organizers and volunteers stood by the gate waving goodbye and exchanging last minute jokes with the children.