HIPPO .. HIPPO .. IT’S OFF TO CRECHE WE GO

Good Morning St Lucia  and what a beautiful day it is we awaken to which is a massive but welcome change from the last couple of days in which we have had some torrential downpours but today we are amped and ready to get started at the crèche .

Breakfast was at 7:30 and was alight brekkie of cereal , eggs , bread and yoghurt and as we knew there was going to be a lot of hard graft involved today we filled our stomachs and prepared ourselves for what was to come in the day ahead . We loaded the vehicles and were very excited to see what awaited us at the crèches in the local village of Monzi which was about a 15 -20 minute drive outside of St Lucia .

Driving through the village kids were running out of their houses as soon as they saw our vehcicles just to come and wave at us and say hello .. it was soo cute and everyone is just soo friendly here which really raised our spirits as it seemed they knew exactly what we were here to do and showed just how much they appreciated our efforts and we knew then just how much of an impact Reach Out have made on this community .

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We arrived at the first of 2 creches which was the second one Reach Out have built and dropped a few of us here to carry out a few tasks that still needed to be completed . Doug , Drey , Nikkta , Cheleigh and Emily were first to volunteer so they stayed here for the first part of the morning with Siya one of our helpers to make blocks which will be used for later projects and to help clean up the site which had some rubbish strewn around everywhere . In order to make the blocks they used 3 parts sand to one part cement and some water to make a damp mix which is then placed into a block mould compacted together and then left to dry in the sun which creates a solid building block and they managed to get a fair few done .

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Leaving those guys there the rest of us headed to the new crèche to carry on other tasks and we had plenty of hands to get cracking . . it seemed so lively at the new crèche and no sooner had we driven through the gates the children were running up to us with beaming smiles and open arms it was really overwhelming . Jumping off the vehicles we were bombarded by them and couldn’t help but pick them up and start to play with them lol but we had a job to do and had to get cracking as we were only there until 2pm as we had other plans for the latter part of the afternoon .

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Tara went through some of the tasks that needed to be completed and delegated out the jobs splitting us into small groups . Our tasks for the day were to sand down the plastering on the front wall of the crèche , make concrete to complete the small race track , make plaster to finish the outside of the crèche walls , collect more sand from a nearby quarry , move painted tyres to the old crèche for a tyre pyramid that will be constructed there , paint the roof , sand down and varnish the doors and windows and clean up the crèche yard .

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5 of us began with the concrete mix which was made up of 3 parts sand , 3 parts stone and 1 bag of cement , the easiest part was mixing this when it was all dry but after adding the water the whole mixture became really heavy and very tiring on the arms especially as it all had to be done by hand like the locals would do it .. it felt like being at the gym haha . 4 of us left to go and collect more sand and fill one of the trailers so we could transport it back , 2 of us began making the plaster mix for Blessing ( another one of our local helpers ) which is made exactly the same as the concrete mix less the stone part .

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Another 2 of us began painting the front wall of the crèche with a white base coat that will help cover any cracks in the plaster and make it easier to paint the top colour onto . And the rest of us began sanding down and varnishing the doors and windows and once Ben had finished sweeping all of the debris off of the roof tiles a few of us climbed up onto the roof to give the tiles a nice thick coat of black sealing paint to make it look good and to protect the building itself .

It was definitely a hard working morning especially as the sun was beating down on us and what with the kids always wanting to play and to give us a hand it made it hard to focus on the job in hand as they were soo persistant and we just wanted to be involved with them but tie for playing would come later . If a couple of us wanted to switch out and take a break we would spend time with the kids then .

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We cannot describe to you how amazing it was to actually be here giving our all to such a great cause and to have the love and support of the local community behind us , we just couldn’t stop smiling and it made us want to work even harder and longer .

These children have nothing apart from their families but they are the happiest , most fun loving , happy go lucky children we have ever has the pleasure of meeting and it made us think of being back home and how some kids are soo spoilt and yet still miserable ! Do we really need toys , gadgets , sweets etc to be happy … the simple answer is no and these children prove that and it is so refreshing and eye opening !!

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They day was moving fast and lunch time soon came around , the teachers started singing a song and then the children joined in and started forming a line outside the crèche door all holding each other like a train still singing 

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The past few programs have been spent building soup kitchens which have now got government funding so the kids now get fed each and everyday which is incredible and on the menu today was chicken and rice ! The rest of us had burgers and all chilled on the tyre pyramid to sit and chow haha . But we couldn’t waste too much time as we only had about 90 mins or so of the day left so we decided to crack on . The 4 at the old crèche swopped with others so everyone had the chance of trying something new and we also swopped around at the new crèche , Blessing even gave a few of us the chance at trying our hand at plastering .

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2 o’clock came around and although we really wanted to stay and carry on it was time for us to pack up and head back into town to get ready for our afternoon activity which we were unable to do yesterday .. a 2 hr Hippo and Crocodile cruise on the Estuary !! Arriving back at Shonalanga ( our accommodation ) we quickly got changed and took a walk up to the jetty and boarded our cruise boat .. what would we see ?!!

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Apparently the Estuary is home to about 800 Hippos , over 1200 Nile Crocodiles and more than 400 species of birds !! Did you know Hippos can weigh up to 35kg at birth , can hold their breath for over 4 minutes and can run up to 40km/h !! WHAT !! We will definitely not be testing that one out ! Knowing this we at least expected to see at least 1 of them lol . Not only did we see just 1 we saw LOADS of them .. they were either chilling in the water .. sleeping with the rest of their pods by the water’s edge or like one of them MOCK charging the boat because he felt a little threatened … that was definitely a little scary !

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We also got see a Goliath Heron .. the world’s largest species of heron , a Giant Kingfisher , Pied Kingfisher , Fish Eagle and a couple of the Estuary’s Nile Crocodiles who are very intimidating !! This is definitely one stretch of water you DO NOT want to go swimming in !! It was the perfect way to end a truly amazing first day at the crèche and being able to watch the sunset over the Estuary on the way back was the icing on the cake .. you guys don’t mind if we stay here in Africa do you ?!! haha we will send you a postcard every now and then we promise lol .

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This evening we decided to head out on the town for dinner and have a pizza evening as a group at the local Italian before making our way back to the lodge to catch up on some much needed zzzz’s for another long day of graft and activities again tomorrow … so stay tuned !! :p

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