A Place to Play
NEW YORK, May 7, 2007—It sounds like child's play, but constructing a playground is serious business. After UMCOR rehabilitated the Pathalai Elementary School that serves 900 students in eastern Sri Lanka, the school principal asked UMCOR if they could develop a playground that would serve as a safe place for children in Pathalai and surrounding villages to play.
Children from multiple ethnicities and religions now play games like cricket and volleyball on the 161,376 square foot playground with equipment supplied by UMCOR. "We never had a proper playground before," said Patkinarajah, a 15 year-old girl who attends the nearby school and enjoys sports of all kinds and is thankful not only for the better playing fields, but the equipment, too.
Estimates show that at least 1,320 children benefit from this project developed by UMCOR with funding from Solidar and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The young people who use these grounds daily recognize the gift they have been given. "We are pleased and privileged to have this equipment at our school," says 16 year-old Krishnapillai. "So many other schools do not have facilities like this."
Having a place to play is important for these children who have been affected by not only the tsunami, but also years of civil strife. The new playground gives them a place to be kids and it also creates an environment for them to build friendships across ethnic and religious lines. The project was carried out with active involvement of local committee members.
UMCOR established its Sri Lanka office in 2005 to assist in tsunami recovery. Since then UMCOR has also provided emergency relief and support during outbreaks of violence in the eastern portion of this island nation.