Chores and Games: A Day at Little Hearts

Last week Cambodians celebrated Visak Bochea Day (Buddha Day), an important religious holiday that simultaneously commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha. The kids had a day off from school, and as always on these occasions, we tried to make the most of the extra free time by combining productivity with entertainment. In other words, it was a day of both chores and play.

After breakfast, the kids were tasked with decluttering their lockers by sorting through all their belongings – clothes, study materials and personal items such as toys. Besides cleaning and organizing their lockers and removing unnecessary or worn-out items, this was also an opportunity to replenish their wardrobes. The children are always growing, so their clothes quickly become too small for them, while others become too worn out to wear. Clothes that are still in good condition but too small can be handed down from the big kids to their younger siblings, who are happy to take them.

In each of the four dormitories, one senior resident was in charge of compiling a list of what his or her roommates required, and then determining whether those items could be obtained as hand-me-downs or needed to be purchased. Michael was in charge of the big boys’ room, Ilay of the big girls’ room, Ben of the small boys’ dorm, and Dina managed the small girls’ room. Working like a well-oiled machine, the kids were able to complete this important organizational task during the morning.

In the afternoon, it was time to play. The activity chosen by the kids was ‘Estafette Retteketet’, a game taught to them several years ago by Dimitri, one of Little Hearts’ co-founders, on one of his frequent visits from Belgium.

Estafette Retteketet actually consists of multiple games in which teams must compete against each other in turn. In the first step, the children had to select the roster of games that would make up the Estafette Retteketet set. Here are the games they chose:

  • Tug-of-war – everyone knows how to play that one
  • Trip to Jerusalem – a kind of musical chairs
  • Turnip-eating contest – uhm… that one explains itself
  • Ice challenge – each kid must lie in a tub filled with water and ice, and the one who lasts the longest wins… but don’t worry, it’s not dangerous ‘cause the weather is so hot in Cambodia anyway!
  • Egg & spoon race – you know that one… can’t drop the egg!
  • Flour relay race – this one is less common and involves passing a small heap of flour to your teammates on a piece of cardboard, but without using your hands. Yeah, it gets quite messy!

In each round of Estafette Retteketet, one team would challenge another to play the next game on the list, with the winning team scoring one point. There were more games on the list, actually, but we didn’t get around to playing all of them because it started raining. But rather than letting the weather ruin the moment, we continued to enjoy the day by playing random games in the rain. Some of the children played soccer, others jumped rope, and some simply enjoyed the warm downpour while watching their siblings splash around in the puddles. The day ended with a nice, long shower for everyone, a yummy dinner and a surprise visit from the local ice cream vendor.

Thanks to Micky, who organized and led this fun activity, and the other kids who helped with preparation and set-up. And, of course, to the rest of the kids who participated enthusiastically and made this a special day. There was great teamwork on display in each game and throughout the day, chores and all.

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