Is it Time 2 Play?

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Yesterday, I drove to Time 2 Play, the gals could not have been more excited. A friend’s children were joining us and it was after a sumptuous sunday lunch. I was on when I arrived to check on the gals a second time just before 5pm.

I walked through the gate, unchecked. Completely. The guard who manned the entrance was deep in conversation on the phone when I strolled past him. There was no metal check not body frisking.

On a Sunday evening, Time 2 Play is teaming with typically 2 or 3 birthday parties. During the school holidays, it has a residential camp. During the school term, the facility runs a nursery school. There is a junior swimming pool and an adult pool. There are swings and sand pits.

I witnessed a young man run into another with a bicycle. The “riding track” is also the defacto separation between the sandpits and swings and the upper area where parties are held; along with the occasional costumed entertainers.

I was able to walk to the main building, unrestricted, observing one attendant between the main pool and the children’s pool which was visibly swamped. There is a Kitchen that was serving up french fries on the ground floor, there is no way that children could possibly be in class with the smell of a live kitchen right beneath.

I did not observe any CCTV between the rooms and the corridors, nor around the perimeter of the play spaces that have been created for the children. I find that the only way to identify a child is the arm band that is stuck to the arm of a subscribed child, 8000/- UGX per head.

I was able to walk right up to the second floor of the main building with no one having approached me to ask if I was looking for something in particular or if i was lost. This is when I started thinking…

  1. How may child minders should play spaces have? What is the ideal and practical ratio?
  2. What kind of child minder training and guidelines should be in the places where we expect to leave our children for a few hours?
  3. Can children of the different body mass and height access the same play spaces comfortably?
  4. Should it be mandatory that play spaces have video surveillance?
  5. What should the guidelines be for adults accessing child play spaces?
  6. Would Time 2 Play and other children play spaces do background checks on the child minders and care givers?
  7. In this terror filled era, how do we make sure that adults like me do not walk in and present a potential harm to the children?

As a parent, I know that when I take my children to play, it is time to play, but when the environments of the spaces we have created for our children to play are so visibly unsafe, I keep wondering, when it comes to their safety and future, is it time to play?

A father gives, a mother gives even more…

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When I was younger, it never quite registered in my head that I had lost my dad. My problems were simpler, a big brother bully, a kid brother envy, I must admit, I was as lost as most middle children.

In high school, it started to hit me – what if my father had been alive. Would I go the same schools? Would we live in the neighborhoods we did? My earlier problems had not gone away – they never do when you are 3, all boys! But now I had fresher problems, girls, among others.

My mother used to share the story, of how she defied her brothers, to raise her children in Kivulu, which for as long as I can remember, retains this slum aura about it. And that was the story of our wanderings. Funny then to find that when we needed to leave BatValley to go visit mum at work in Makerere, and as kids, the only safe place to pass was…Kivulu!

In Makerere she worked hard and long, toiled for as long as I can remember, going from the Main Printery, Medical School to that almost damned Main Library basement called the Bindery. When I look back, she must have worked in and around Makerere since I was in P5, just shy of 2 decades.

My father? Long gone. My memories of him are simple, Bata and Hotel Equatoria. Ofcourse how could I forget my brothers – they are stark ever-present reminders of his presence. When I look at either, I have to wonder, who was closest to him, in demeanor, character, and even in looks. Ok, about looks, neither, I beat them – and that’s hands down. But seriously, my brothers are the most important anything my father ever left. We’ve fought, shouted, deserted, and came right back. We cook, clean and can shop un-aided. We dig, farm and work our hands off. We never give up, certainly not on eachother, we never have and we never will. Yes, Period!

This is mostly because of our mother, my mother! She was unique, inspirational, a hard worker and a talented problem solver. If you think I like white for sakes, ask her, she dared me to prove I was cleaner, while in boarding school. Have never looked back, I never will.

You see for close to 20 years, my mom reared chicken, visited Texas, made paper bags, suffered a broken leg, twice, gained 2 daughters-in-law, collected news papers, lost a father, gained 3 granddaughters, farmed in Masaka, slept in a military cell, raised 3 boys and graduated 2 of them, served in Local Council, picked fish from Kalangala, held down a job, even led a department!

She gave everything she had for the sake of us all, yes, outlaws, sisters, brothers, our cousins, you name it all – her hands were ever wide open. Now, almost 20 months in the grave, she still gives… this week Chris and I received a gift from our mother, made possible by our Father!

…now if you think this was about my mother, and father, its because you don’t know that I have a Father in Heaven!