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Reynolds establishes playground in Afghanistan

Playground Builders offers hope, opportunity to children in Middle East conflict zones

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Since then, the Canadian government has withdrawn all its humanitarian aid from the Palestinian Authority, worrying that it could end up in Hamas’ hands. The embargo on humanitarian aid also means that Reynolds wasn’t able to check up on his playgrounds in the region.

“It’s too difficult to get into Gaza so we didn’t even try, it’s basically closed,” he said. “For playground guilders we are currently working with CIDA on a possible grant through another partner, and they have been very explicit that there will be nothing to go into Gaza.

“None of our playground equipment will go to anything that has any association with Hamas.”

Though he wasn’t able to see the playgrounds himself, Reynolds said he has seen pictures and they seem to be fine.

“They’ve not been bombed by Israelis, they’ve not been taken apart by sectarian violence,” he said. “By the pictures, they’re fine.”

Once the West Bank leg of the trip was finished, Reynolds went on his own to Afghanistan, where he encountered two places that touched his heart.

It wasn’t a smooth trip.

“When I arrived in Kabul at the airport the first person that greeted me was a man thinking I was from Blackwater,” Reynolds said. Blackwater is the American private security firm that has been accused of killing civilians.

The first place he came to was the House of Flowers Orphanage, where 20 boys and 10 girls had won the “lottery of life” simply by being at such a good orphanage, according to Reynolds.

“They prepared a room for me, so that I could stay there, no charge, no accommodation, just to stay with them,” he said. “But when I started to learn about the stories about the little people that were in there, it was a little emotional, I found that I couldn't stay there.”

The orphanage was started in 2002 — a hostile time, according to Reynolds, given that it was the year after the notorious Taliban were routed from power by a joint operation by the U.S. military and mujahedeen forces.

The stories of the children at the orphanage brought him to tears.

“This American couple had gone by and seen these kids,” he said. “They were crying, huddled up. (They) saw them again, crying and huddled up. (They) talked to somebody and learned that, yeah, their mother’s gone missing, so they were just out in the open ruins.”

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