New Era (Windhoek)

12 April 2005

Namibia: Volunteer Corps Make School Parks

Windhoek — A GROUP of U.S. Peace Corps working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and volunteers from Raleigh International have completed the construction of the first of three adventure playgrounds in the Kunene Region.

The adventure playground at the Edward Garoeb Primary School in Anker in Kunene took three weeks to design and build, and was officially opened last Friday.

The school has approximately 200 children in attendance, many of them boarders at the adjacent hostel. The school formerly had no facilities and even a playground. The new facility, which includes a modern climbing frame, has provided the children with much needed equipment

Courtney Bauman, an American Peace Corps volunteer initiated the project, and was assisted by friends and family back in the United States, as he was responsible for securing funding for this project. The facilities constructed include climbing frames, swings, slides, monkey bars, stepping stones, netball courts and mini-football pitches.

Bauman first found out about Raleigh International from her colleague Tara Di Tomasso who is based in Fransfontein where Raleigh built a playground during its last expedition in 2004.

She approached Raleigh's country director Gwen Stirling in October 2004 with her proposition for the very first playground to be built at Edward Garoeb Primary School.

Speaking at the opening of the facility last Friday, Bauman stated, "This is a dream come true. As a peace corps volunteer, my role is to work with the school and the community and the building of this playground has really brought both the school and community together. This is by far the happiest day for myself and the children, parents and teachers. Everyone has come together to make this happen and the school now really looks great."

The headmaster at the school, Geiseb commended Raleigh International for its help, adding that, "This means a lot for our children. Today is a happy day in Anker and the first of many happy days for the learners and us. We hope to see the children playing on this playground for many years to come. Raleigh International has contributed greatly to our school and to our community."

It has been shown that schools with more recreational facilities have greater attendance records, as these facilities attract the children to school. It is also believed that providing such a focal point for children prevents the younger generation from getting involved with other less desirable activities.

"Living and working closely with the community in Anker has provided the Venturers with a unique and unforgettable experience. They are taking away some wonderful memories and a new understanding about life and education in rural Namibia. They have made new friends and they have left behind a wonderful playground for the young learners of Anker," stated Gwen Stirling, Raleigh Interna-tional's country director in Namibia. Other playgrounds to be constructed would be at the Motsoni Primary School and Ndonker Base in the Omaheke Region.

The expedition started on March 22 and is expected to be completed on May 23, 2005.

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