It’s been almost three months Pappu has been working on the playgrounds in Janwaar. Actually, it’s been nine months Pappu has started to create and build various elements in the village. The tree house library was his first shot. A small balcony kind of place in between the branches of a Banyan tree where the kids can read books whenever they like. And they love to climb up there! From the Banyan tree, he moved to the lakeside. There he made the ancient fort ruins the center of another library. In the shadow of the huge surrounding trees, this spot quickly became a place to hang out. To meet up.

Michael, a volunteer, had helped Pappu with the designs. Pappu spent hours and hours in the burning sun building the libraries. There were times when he’d work alone, slowly but steadily. Today, both places look extraordinary. They spread positive vibes and are truly inviting.

Thanks to the support of Jenny from Limitless Child, Pappu got his chance to work on playgrounds. His material mix: worn out tyres, wood and rope. Even though we’ve had some designs he started to build on his own. Inspired from what he had seen at Prakriti in Noida (please link!), his imagination began to float. It was the swing which came first. A huge tyre hanging down on a yellow rope from a huge old tree. Its setting with the lake in the background and the fort ruins at the forefront is hard to beat.

During the monsoon a tree had broken and fallen on the lakeside library. Luckily the structure of the fort ruin could bear it. It was a huge, thick branch with quite an unusual form. It looked rather massive but still it somehow fit beautifully into the picture. Pappu’s mind became restless; “what could he do with the wood?” Almost two months went by and he didn’t touch the bark. One day it struck him. A Eureka moment! He scraped the outer layer of the tree until only the beautiful smooth bark remained. A completely different look. Soft, smooth, almost elegant. He axed the branches and made it fall off the ruins. The huge wood structure was now broken into four pieces – each single one still big! First step was made … still he was unclear what to do with it. So he kept working on the Malkambh and other small elements of the playground. Some times alone. Some times with a kid or two.

As autumn dropped in, the temperature fell and it became much more comfortable to work. The lake was now open for fishing. Villagers, young and old, came to the lake more often. The kids hang around and “tested” Pappu’s work – the swing, the Malkhamb. This was what Pappu needed. Proof of concept so to speak 🙂 When he saw the kids enjoying his creation his heart and soul opened up and unleashed new ideas. Soon, he made the wooden couch cum trampoline. Asha, one of the older girls in Janwaar, helped to paint it. The kids were attracted more than ever. They were literally drawn into the place. More and more kids came to help. Some came for the entire day, others just dropped by for the sake of play. Pappu sometimes buys water and biscuits to munch and they all have a blast!

Intuitively Pappu engages the kids. He bought more paint and brushes so that more kids could paint. Others were helping him with other things. And it’s always fun! They all love what they do – the work factor is gone. It’s all about passion and joy. Now he is planning to get permanent markers for the kids. His idea is to draw on the bricks they’ve recently painted. “Talking walls!” Maybe soon we will see new comics on these bricks or stencils or maybe just names … who knows?

Setting up these playgrounds was truly a process which unfolded step by step. Pappu grew along with it and made it his. As a natural consequence work became fun and he progressed quickly. As the playground kept unfolding its final shape Pappu himself became much more open, he now thinks about how to engage the kids and make the playground even more interesting. Pappu has found his element.

And the next “job” is already waiting: Villa Janwaar needs renovation !

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