|The Sounds of Happy Children in Phu Ly
Phu Ly Playground • June, 2007
The city officials beamed. A children’s marching band performed. Speeches were made by Vietnamese government officials and representatives of UniReach International and Kids Around the World. Weary worker’s eyes sparkled. But most important of all, the shouts and laughter of the children filled the air.
June 22nd was an exceptionally hot afternoon in Phu Ly, a section of Ha Nam city about an hour and half south of Hanoi. The dedication site was covered with a ragged tarp to provide shade. The forty six people who had spent five days building the playground huddled in the shade while Vietnamese children wiggled and wormed their way into the crowd get near team member Tony Do as he made animals and flowers from balloons.
Most of the workers were not paying attention to the speakers, the ribbon cutting or the television camera recording the proceedings. Instead they were handing out candy, toys, Starbucks stickers and yo-yo’s to the excited children.
Then the moment came. The officials signaled the children that they could use the playground equipment. Everyone forgot the heat. The children experimented with the barrel roll and the rock climbing wall. One boy paused with a touch of fear as at the top of a taller slide than he had ever seen before. Another boy let out a long cry of joy as he soared into the sky on the new swing. A young girl giggled as a 73 year old construction team member joined her on the pogo stick and they bounced up and down together.
It was an unforgettable day. But better yet, it was merely the first day that new playground brought joy to the hearts of the children in Phu Ly. It remains there as a long-standing symbol of the love and generosity of the Americans who came to town in the summer of 2007.
The project was funded by UniReach International and its partner St. John’s Lutheran Church of Orange, CA and built with the expert leadership of Kids Around the World of Rockford, IL. The construction team members will never forget the work and the sights, but mostly the children.
With the completion of this project, UniReach once again fulfilled its mission to make a difference where it is needed and appreciated. If you would like to see additional pictures of this project and the children, log on to phulyplayground.blogspot.com.
Photos from Phu Ly playground project.