Friday, July 15, 2011

Nonprofits Build Playgrounds in Poverty and Disaster Stricken Haiti

Like warfare, severe poverty doesn't jibe with safe places for children to play together in a public setting. Nonprofits from all over the world have concentrated efforts in Haiti to address the need for playgrounds.

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake in January 2010 that killed and left homeless many thousands of people drew a great deal of international attention and aid in the wake of the disaster.

Prior to the earthquake, the Disasters Emergency Committee reports:

• More than 70 percent of Haitians were living on less than $2 a day.
• 86 percent of national capital Port au Prince residents lived in slum conditions.
• 80 percent of education in Haiti was offered in often sub-par private schools because the higher- quality state system provided an inadequate number of schools.
• Half of Port-au-Prince residents didn't have access to latrines and one-third had access to tap water.

One example is Kids Around the World, a religiously themed group that since 1994 has built nearly 150 playgrounds in 27 countries, including nine either completed or in the works in Haiti.

The organization's website says it provides "safe play equipment for children ... in situations where it was difficult to just be a 'kid.' So often children find themselves as victims of situations out of their control, they become victims of economic stress, victims of political injustice, victims of natural disasters and worst of all, victims of war. It was for these children that Kids Around the World began."

Numerous other playground equipment and financial donation drives have taken place toward creating Haitian playgrounds. Some donor organizations include:

• Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos International
• International Childhood Enrichment Program
• Tilt-A-World
• The Miriam Foundation