Imagine a child opening a Christmas parcel to discover a football made from woven leaves. Or excitedly tearing off the wrapping paper to uncover just a ragged, threadbare old doll.
When it comes to play, youngsters in the Ugandan village of Kabubbu have to make do. There are no gadgets or computer consoles. It’s no better outdoors: the countryside may be beautiful but there are no parks for a kickabout or safe public places to have fun.
But the Sussex charity, Quicken Trust – which has spent more than a decade transforming thousands of lives in the village – is urging people in the UK to change that. It’s launching an appeal to raise £10,000 to provide a playground for the children in Kabubbu.
Play may seem a frivolous way to pass the time but it’s crucial for a child as it grows. Academics agree that games which involve exploring, creating, problem-solving and learning help to stimulate the development of the brain. Play helps children develop socially, physically and emotionally.
Education has changed enormously in Kabubbu with a primary and secondary school built in the past 12 years. But often lessons can involve teaching by rote. Quicken believes that providing a safe, creative playground will give youngsters a fresh source of inspiration which will benefit not only them but the whole community.
“We are making every endeavour to find ways of stimulating and encouraging children,” says Quicken’s Director of Development, Geraldine Booker. “Alongside feeding the children and providing healthcare, we are trying to spark their imaginations through playing.”
Geraldine hopes there will be a good response to the appeal.
“Everyone likes seeing children having fun, especially at Christmas,” she says. “People in Sussex have been incredibly generous towards Quicken in the past. I really hope lots of people get behind this project – even a small donation would make a difference. You can’t imagine how excited the children in Kabubbu would be to have such a wonderful playground. They would treasure it. And it would be a huge boost for the whole community because everyone would feel it belonged to them.”
Quicken has teamed up with another charity, East African Playgrounds, to plan the site. Children in the village have been consulted about the facilities they would like to see. It’s hoped the playground will include slides, swings and a sandpit, as well as a miniature village with a mock shop and even a radio station. There will also be giant draughts and snooker for older teenagers to play. EAP uses recycled materials where possible and builds to a high standard so the playground will last for years.
Anyone wishing to back the appeal should send cheques made out to Quicken Trust to Quicken Trust, PO Box 113 Hailsham, BN27 4US or call 01323 832361