I learned about the ‘Bringing Smiles’ initiative not a long time ago. After a quick catch up with Gina to understand a bit better the whole idea of the organisation, she told me that the next project on the schedule was going to take place in an orphanage in Köln. That was enough for me to decide to join the group.
Learning about the preparation of the project was already very inspiring. The agenda was pretty clear: a rock garden, repaint garden furniture, trim hedges and set up the (Brazilian!) hammock we brought as a present.
It all started at 9h15 on a sunny Sunday in Düsseldorf. A 30’ drive to Köln and there we are with the first surprise of the day: a huge breakfast table prepared for us.
After about 30’ the volunteers were all there, including a professional Garden Engineer, who kindly guided us throughout the whole process. We were divided into groups which were given different responsibilities. I was part of the hammock crew. The biggest lesson learned? Engineers (the other 2 friends assembling the hammock with me) don’t read manuals.
In the meanwhile the kids were already well mingled with the ‘adults’ and we could hear conversations going on all over the place. Super nice atmosphere with non-Germans trying to communicate in German and some kids using English words along with body language 🙂
Lots of work on the soil to accommodate the rocks in the best way possible, preparing the flowers to be planted and lots of hope that we’d be able to finish everything the way we planned.
A nice pizza session in the middle of the day to recharge the batteries and there we go again! Back to work.
During the session we found out that some friends have genuine talents, uncovered until that day. Dynal is definitely a rock garden specialist. We are all sure about it now. Jovander builds perfect stairs in 10’. Eadaoin is the paint master – check the gallery to see what happens when you think that an oil-based paint is water-based 🙂
By 18h we were all set. The garden will take a few weeks to settle and look really nice. And we’ll be very happy to come back to see it and spend an afternoon with the teenagers – this time just enjoying the result of our work celebrating with a BBQ on a (hopefully sunny) Sunday.
I don’t think that any of us had a clear idea of what to expect as the outcome of our time invested there. To me, the greatest feeling of that day was to see those kids so engaged, focused and happy to build their own garden.
5 teenagers and 9 volunteers. A smile says more than words. Check out the pictures to see what we all achieved!
One more mission accomplished powered by Bringing Smiles. Very happy to have been part of it. JM.