When the Redearth Nursery reached its full capacity of 75 children, we encountered a slight hurdle in the playground. So the team at the Redearth Centre took on the challenge of solving it… in 8.5 hours.
On the top of the hill in Masindi Town, at the Red earth Nursery, play is serious business. From sandcastles to play dough sausages, it is at the heart of all learning. Right now it’s the hot season, and the usually lush, green grass is dry and parched. Just beyond the sheltered verandah
is the play area, where a small, lone playhouse stands. But with the nursery capacity now at its maximum, when 75 nursery pupils arrived at the gate we realised we needed more playhouses to shade them from the scorching hot sun.
On our recent Team Day, we presented the problem to the Redearth Centre staff, and set a challenge against the clock, complete with progress measurements and success indicators. Working in teams, and utilising their forward planning, communication and collaboration skills, each team had to construct a free-standing playhouse on the veranda, suitable for one or two children to play comfortably inside.
The Team Day challenge focused on building trust, mitigating conflict and encouraging collaboration towards shared goals. The whole Redearth model is designed to be entirely sustainable so that the programmes can eventually be run by a Ugandan team without external intervention. This requires effective capacity building at community level, working closely with Redearth staff to build a skilled team capable of achieving tangible improvements in the Nursery and across the Redearth programmes.
We started at 8.00am sharp, to get ahead of the hot day. Gathered inside the Training Centre, each group was asked to elect a team leader. Their professional roles within Redearth were not criteria for election. The team leader was to be responsible for successfully allocating of tasks and ensuring EVERYONE in the team contributed throughout the day.
Each table was then swiftly transformed into drawing boards as the brainstorming and planning began, with the groups discussing and deciding what exactly they were going to construct, and how. As part of the plan, they also had to create an itemised budget for any materials needed to construct their playhouse. Anything above the set budget required full justification, as we were looking for value for money.
By 10.00am, the tables were filled with sketches, diagrams and even playhouse models. The teams had to report back to the Directors on their progress, presenting their itemised budget along with a drawn, annotated plan for approval.
The building was soon underway. Bamboo sticks rose up into the air and we began to see two different models taking shape; one like a tepee tent, the other a triangular construction with two sloping walls.
At 2pm, the teams stopped to provide a short, written progress report to the Directors indicating in detail: 1.) whether they thought they were on target to achieve the outcome and 2.) could the meet the success indicators.
Then the building swiftly continued, as final flourishes and decoration were added. From folds of coloured crape paper to a toy radio made from cardboard, the bare, bamboo structures were gradually transformed into playhouses.
At 4.30pm, time was up and the Directors were called in for inspection of the playhouses out on the verandah. The bucket was brought out, filled with water and thrown onto each playhouse to see if it met the criteria – while one team member waited inside, happy to discover that it did!