Bombs going off every minute, grenades flying just past my ears, but I am still driving through the bullet rain, fully determined to bring the bouncy castle to the next group of poor children. That is how I want to be remembered!
Road to Van
Well, in Eastern Turkey the situation is fortunately not THAT bad. Yet we heard one bomb going off while we were just preparing the castle. Three people were shot just some hundred meters away from our house. And one castle was seriously delayed as a bomb had destroyed the road completly just the night before. On the other hand, Eastern Turkey has one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen, and the traditional breakfast is just unbelievably good.
Finding a place for the castle
Before I had come to Van, a nice little town near a very big lake, I had asked my friend to have their eyes open for one bouncy event or two, and yes, they indeed DID. Each and everyone of her friends presented me an idea to set up the castle, so my days were quite busy! Next to the lengthy breakfasts and enjoying the amazing landscape, we set up the castle SIX times in just ten days. But see for yourselves:
First day, we brought the castle to a nearby village in the mountains. We could just stay the morning, as the kids had to work in the afternoon :(
Afterwards we had to enjoy the landscape of course:
Do you remember the fight against IS for the North-Syrian city Kobani? There are still many people who could not return yet, some of who stay in a little refugee camp in Van. After the obligatory breakfast, we went there for two hours, packed it back into the car and visited a pre school in another neighbourhood. First double action!
After which we enjoyed the landscape and ourselves.
The next event was a breakfast. Followed by several other breakfasts, and finally again a bouncy castle! This time next to my friend’s pharmacy. And as a thank you, I finally got my long-needed insulin!
What to choose??
Seyla, the friendliest pharmacist in Van!
Bomb crater near Van, Turkey
Having gained THREE kilos in just one week, it was time to move on. After breakfast at the lake side, we drove around a bomb crater from an attack the night before, and arrived in Diyarbakir. My friend’s family had prepared a gigantic dinner already. A lot of calories which we could use very good the next day! Bouncy life as usual.
Selam with the footballs. We should not have them very long though
Next day, we went into a Yazidi refugee camp. All the people had fled from the IS in the last years, and especially the children welcomed us overwhelmingly. My friends had bought around thirty footballs to give to the kids, and we had thought about making a queue to distribute them. Well, that was a bit naive, after the balls were discovered, it took around 10 seconds for the kids to pull them out of the car, open the nets and grabbing as many as they could. We three big men had no chance against this mob. But at least the balls had arrived in the camp :)
Actual footage from the bouncy castle at the Yazidi camp
There do not exist many pictures from the children the bouncy castle, as we were just too busy to control the children crowd. I guess when ou have fled from the IS, it is not very important to you anymore if someone shouts “Please, there should be no more than 15 children on the castle”. After one hour, our adult helpers from the camp went away suddenly, and only three people left, we had to close the castle, as we had no chance to provide a safe jumping for the kids. Very sad that not everyone could jump, but at least 100 children enjoyed quite a lot. Anyway, this is haunting me, so I guess I have to come back in the future.
After-bounce food tastes best
So we just packed together, had some dinner until we nearly exploded, and planned the next day in a nearby village school. It was the last day of school, so good students were rewarded with a day on the bouncy castle. While the bad students were punished with a day on the bouncy castle.
In the end, it was six bouncy castles in just ten days, the most active, exhausting, rewarding and fulfilling time of my travels yet! With fulfilling, I refer to my stomach mostly though.
But now, after one year on the road with my castle, it is time to go home. Enjoy the view of my sleeping place tonight: