Then she asked me look in her spare room. Well, it was choka-block full of all sorts of toys and games - all handmade and all created from recycled items. When I lamented that I'd only managed to make a few toys before going off site, she said I had a very important job: that of inventory of the all the toys and games! Apparently Louise, who'd knitted dozens of teddies, shied away from this job, telling Amanda to ask me to do it.
The week before the school visit, I walked up to Amanda's house and helped her to sort out all the toys and games. Then we drove around Mwadui commercial area and bought dozens of small items which made up fillers for the individual parcels.
For the small girls (three to eight years) we had soft toys (yes, handmade), a beaded bangle (handmade!) a gimmicky plastic bottle filled with candy, , and a pair of socks. The small boys received a handmade car or tractor, a pair of socks, a small bottle of candy, a rubber ball and a mini-bean bag.
The medium girls (nine to 12 years) had a cuddly toy, a jewelry box with a handmade brooch and bangle inside, a white embroidered handkerchief and a headscarf*. We also added a small selection of toiletries (whichever expats stayed in hotels and guest houses on their travels, collected the complimentary soap, lotion, shampoo, sewing kit, shoe shine kit, and mosquito repellant sachets and brought them back to site! I 'd traveled from East Africa to Central South Africa where our home is. We then toured on our motorcycle across South Africa, into Namibia, south west Africa; Zimbabwe , Central Africa and Botswana so I added a varied selection) The medium boys received handmade aeroplanes, dinky cars. Amanda had several cards of these bought in South Africa in March; hobby horses, my all-time favorite toy - and Amanda makes beautiful ones; socks and a soccer ball.
The big girls (from 13 - 17) received hand-made jewelry boxes with bangles and brooches inside. We also used dozens of pillow-cases (the stuffing had been used for the soft toys - absolutely nothing was wasted!) to make toiletry bags. Into these bags we placed very personal toiletries and undergarments which these young girls have never owned. We also added a toilet soap, a small tin of body talc, body lotion (we bought large bottles and decanted into - yes - smaller bottles which we'd recycled) and a headscarf*.
** The headscarves were made from large swathes of material cloth called kitambaa all in East African designs. We bought the clothes and while we were busy making the big girls' toiletry bags, Louise, using pinking shears, was cutting headscarves (150cm x 150cm) from this. The albino children have very sensitive skin and of course, their uncovered heads take the worst beating in the harsh African sun.
At first we scratched our heads for suitable items for the big boys. Yet once we started to add a dinky car (males - any age - love cars), a soccer ball; and then we bought every Bic (ball-point pen), toothepaste, toilet soap and torch/flashlight from the local shop. Amanda also ran up dozens of wallets made of denim. Then she and I raided our own wallets for small change which we added to the money purses. Each big boy received one of these in his parcel.
Amanda's house and spare room was packed with handmade toys and games (see the push-carts - bottom left loaded with Louise' cute knitted teddies) - filling station - bottom right and aeroplanes - top right)
Rattle toys, a farmyard scene (this turned out to be the most popular gift) more aeroplanes and cuddly soft toys
Pretty jewelry boxes with toiletries, bangles and brooches
Soft toys, teddies and bean bags
Cars on broomsticks, hobby horses (aren't they exquisite?). And bottom two photos: from the local shop we bought large bottles of body lotion, flashlights, body talc, toothpaste and toilet soap
One box of big boys parcels: note the torches adorned with the American flag and President Obama, toothpaste, toilet soap and wallet
We visited several shops (see top right - the hen and chickens pecking under the lingerie display) and bought up all their supplies of girls' underwear. Amanda sewed toilet bags from pillowcases which I threaded with a colorful satin ribbon. These were for the big girls personal toiletries
Louise cuts headscarves from the kitambaa with pinking shears.Amanda takes a well-earned rest
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