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Free to Play

by Lindsay Tarquinio

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This morning, I drove through the township in Jeffrey’s Bay on my way to Ithemba.  It is a gorgeous, sunny day.  Children were out playing everywhere!  This should be odd because it is the middle of the school day, but this is totally characteristic of the township.  Most of the children have no one taking care of them.  No one telling them to go to school.

So, they play, in the street.  They play with old rusted car parts in broken washing tubs and run around barefoot through piles of shattered glass.  It is a beautiful site because of their smiles.They have joy in their eyes, but it is entirely heart breaking because they are playing in the middle of the road, in traffic, and NO adult cares.  They are completely unsafe, vulnerable to drunk predators, distracted drivers and terribly dangerous “toys” they have found on the street.

Then, I enter the gates of Ithemba School, and I see 130 children running around laughing.  Our children are FREE TO PLAY incomplete safety!  The swing set is full, the jungle gym is totally covered in precious 3-5 year olds playing make believe and daring each other to go down the slide! Across the yard a group of little girls sit gossiping and giggling.  Within Ithemba’s gates, they are little kids, and they are free to be little kids.  No worries, no danger.  We keep them safe, loved, fed and encouraged.

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