Struggling to keep Epandi entertained during quarantine, the family watched tradies working on a construction site a few blocks away.
“My son absolutely loves building – he has been around small-scale construction all his life, mostly with mud bricks and all by hand, but he also loves machinery,” Mary Therese said.
“He has his own real hammer and hoe at home, as well as a bricklayer’s trowel. We packed a measuring tape in our suitcases because he loves to measure things as well.
“So apart from people watching on Hay Street, and the odd overhead plane or chopper, that construction site is our relief for some outside world movement and action.”
By day six of quarantine, Mary Therese decided to email Icon, the construction company behind the project, to thank them for unknowingly providing entertainment for Epandi.
Much to her surprise, not only did Icon reply, but they also sent a heartfelt gift to their hotel room the very next day: a hard hat, high-vis vest, and toy toolbox.
“He was over the moon,” Mary Therese said.
“He makes me wear the vest when we build pillow forts now and dad has to wear the hard hat.
“He will pack up all the toys in his toolbox, and he is the only one permitted to open and close it. He will sprint to go get it if he decides we need a tool for some reason or another.”
Speaking on Radio 6PR’s Breakfast on Friday morning, Icon’s WA managing director Luke Young said workers hadn’t realised they were a source of entertainment for returning travellers until the family reached out.
“We sort of said, ‘What can we do to make this little gentleman’s day a little bit better?'” he said.
“The world’s had a pretty tough time lately so just sending across a little gift pack could make his day and time in quarantine all the better. I think we hit the mark there.”
Icon is currently working to get a 39-storey student accommodation building off the ground in Wellington Street, across the road from Yagan Square, set to house more than 400 students.
Mr Young said work at the site kicked off at 6am and provided plenty of entertainment for young returned travellers until 6.30pm, weekends included.
“Our site there is well up out of the ground and we’ve got the cranes swinging around all day every day so there’s plenty to see in the eyes of a two-year-old,” he said.
Mary Therese said she hoped their story would brighten up other people’s days.
“So many people don’t realise how their day-to-day lives make the world better for others,” she said.
Epandi’s new toolkit will travel with the family to Queensland after they leave the Intercontinental next week, and on to Angola when they return home next year.
*WAtoday chose not to use the family’s surname at their request.
Marta is an award-winning photographer and journalist with a focus on social justice issues and local government.