The satisfaction of a worthwhile job well done
SWINGS, slides, tyre bridges, climbing walls, a see-saw and a fireman's pole glistened in the morning sun.
The playground was finished, and this was the calm before the storm – quite literally, as it would turn out.
Just 12 hours later the field behind the BMK School was a hive of activity as the rain hammered down, soaking the dozens of volunteers, parents, teachers, community leaders and dignitaries gathered for the long-awaited opening day.
Youngsters swarmed across the multi-coloured steel structure, which had been off-limits during construction, unable to believe it had been built in just four weeks especially for them.
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Here was the moment this remote rural school – which caters for more than 800 orphans and poor children – had been waiting for, and East African Playgrounds (EAP) founder Carla Powell praised everyone who made it possible.
"I think the playground is perfect," she said. "It's structure and design are fantastic, the children are playing the way they should be.
"We spend a lot of time at every playground we build going around and seeing how it could be better, and we really feel like there is nothing we can do to improve this one."
Ms Powell, who grew up in Brockham, started EAP five years ago and has overseen 18 projects across Uganda since then, with more playgrounds being built every year.
This is the first year the directors have taken a back seat and left it to their Ugandan team of welders, builders, painters and sports coaches.
Co-founder Tom Gill said: "This marks the end of our most successful summer, our busiest summer.
"It is the culmination of several thousand different people in the UK supporting us, and several hundred more in Uganda.
"This is more than just a playground. It shows that our staff are ready to go off and build around the country without us, which is what we have always been about."
Before the playground was unveiled on Friday, the school hosted a lengthy ceremony of thanks, during which the 15 EAP volunteers danced to traditional African music, and local politicians, church leaders and members of the school's committee gave speeches.
School founder Banerya Musa Kasoone said: "As far as the playground is concerned, the children will grow physically fit, with sound hearts and minds. The playground has already attracted the attention of the community.
"This playground is strong and will benefit the staff, the children, the leaders and the community at large.
"This school is a growing project and it requires a lot more to be done. We want expansion of the farm, we want to expand the school and have better structures.
"With this playground EAP has provided a requirement – without a playground a school cannot get registered in Uganda."
Birungi Musa, senior inspector of schools for the Luuka District local government, was a guest of honour during the ceremony, which also featured musical performances and presentations of sports equipment and clothing to the school.
Patrick Mufumba, a local farmer who lives nearby and helped with the building project, said: "The playground has become very important to us because we are striving for more people to come here. It will improve the standard of education and attract more parents.
"The volunteers are so co-operative and they are hard-working. When I first saw them I thought they couldn't do it, but they have shown us they can. They are such kind people."
The 15 volunteers – most of whom are students at UK universities and spent a month in Uganda – were presented with gifts including T-shirts with the slogan "I support BMK".
On Saturday morning the group said an emotional goodbye to the children and staff at the school before starting the long journey north to Entebbe and then home to the UK.
Next year EAP is planning to run nine projects in Uganda between June and October. To get involved, visit www.eastafricanplaygrounds.org