Day two at Kiwuliriza Primary.
Everywhere you look there are wee children running around like pint-sized madmen, buzzing off the excitement of having a group of mzungu to touch and play with.
We’ve brought sports equipment — basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, hockey sticks, badminton rackets, even skipping ropes — and the kids are trying out everything all at once. Feral versions of fifteen different sports coalesce, break apart, and then re-form, like red- and yellow-shirted squealing waves.
The mzungu try to make connections — and they do, of course — but it’s difficult when you’re trying to explain the rules of hockey to a group of kids who’ve never seen snow, let alone hockey sticks, whilst still keeping an eye out for errant basketballs, off-course birdies or over-enthusiastic skippers.
Somehow, in all this chaos, Madeleine manages to find a tiny sanctuary. She plops down in the shade with a couple kids and pulls out a book, and just like that the outside world is gone for them. Forget basketball. They’re completely focused on the story she’s telling them.