In much of the world, an afternoon in nature, barbecuing a delicious meal is an ordinary – if welcome – break from the routine. For the kids from the disabled children’s orphanage outside of the city of Bishkek, however, this is not a typical weekend getaway but a rare and exciting occasion to get out of the walled-in institution and to touch and explore everything that they possibly can. When we all arrived at our picnic spot, part of our team prepared and grilled the meat, the other part walked the kids Soviet-era children’s camp, exploring trails that were wheelchair-friendly enough to push through.
When the explorers had satisfied their curiosity, they travelled to the rushing river to splash around in the cold water, thrill in the feel of the water running across their bare feet, throwing rocks and sinking their hands into the mud next to the river’s banks, being like any other kid would be in their place. This time came to an end far too quickly, but they were just as eager to leave the riverside as they were to get to it in the first place, as now the plates overflowing with BBQed meat, pickles and chips, with as many refills as anyone wanted.
Most of them elected to lay around under the shade of the trees once the meal was over, clearly drowsy from the great feast they had partaken in, while a few of the more energetic ones decided to return to the river for photos and more play. What seemed to be only minutes was then proved to have been hours as the orphanage bus returned, and all the glowing happy-faced kids were bundled up for their return trip to their current home. Choruses of thank yous poured out of the van windows in Russian, Kyrgyz and English as the waving kids drove off and out of our sight, and our memory making time together came to an end for that particular special day.