Tuesday, day 2 of the water programme – the day started out a little grey and rainy but this seemed to have no bearing on the children’s enthusiasm! They were running around outside on the grass, playing ball games, watching kayaks and exploring the trees. The rain soon disappeared and we were ready to start the day’s activities as a group. The plan for the day was creating cement water containers or basins. Janet Ranson, an artist, came in to assist us with the process.
At the moment when we were about to start the process nature surprised us all. A small yellow duckling was seen struggling to survive in the vlei. We all gathered on the banks and the children were earnestly concerned with how we coudl save it. A young woman in a kayak came to help out. It was a very dramatic process for the whole group as she tried to get close to the little duckling and scoop it out of the water. She could not bend out to pick it up because her kayak would turn over. Eventually, with a lot of patience and the help of a bucket, she scooped the duckling up and carried it to shore. The children burst into a spontaneous round of applause and rushed to see if it was ok. Sadly, it was not and shortly after it had been rescued from the water it died.
This development affected all of us. It was not so easy to just head off to work on cement water basins after such an experience. We had decided to have the groups work seperately at the beginning of the day to facilitate the cement making process and this turned out to be a good idea for other reasons. It meant that the older group was able to start working on their cement basins while the younger groups had time to eat snack, play some games and reflect on what happened with the duckling. Some children in my group were very upset by the ducklinsg’ death. They decided they wanted to have a funeral. A few children went out to find and make a grave. Joel wrote it several prayers for the funeral. Sarah drew a beautiful picture. They had a lot of questions, they wanted to know where the duckling’s mother was, why it was alone, why is was weak, what had happened to it, why it died, whether people would abandon their children to. We had a chance to talk about these things while we ate snack. It is amazing how thoughtful and perceptive children can be.
By lunch time, Bridget’s group had completed their cement basins. They were really beautiful too! Jacob had brought in a bunch of mosaic tiles for his basin and with an enormous amount of generosity he shared his tiles with the others children in his group! My group and Patsy’s group were halfway through the process. We had built up a sand mould, covered it with one layer of cement and added the burlap to strengthen it. After lunch and free play, those children that needed to complete their basins did so while the others worked on poems about the movement of water and created a skeleton for the paper mache frame that will hold it.
Even though nature presented us all with an emotionally charged experience right at the beginning of the day, everyone was excited about what they had made by the end. The children kept asking, “When will it be dry?” They could not wait to take it home. We will have to wait until friday through to see the finished product!