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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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Another boy saw his father executed in front of him.

“You look at these innocent people and it was just difficult for me at the time to stay,” he said. “I’ve seen very bad stuff, but when you put real people to it, it’s very touching.”

Reynolds noticed that the orphanage already had a playground in place, but it stood on a foundation of dirt and hard rock — a little dangerous, according to him. Wanting to do something for the orphanage, he sent an e-mail to the directors of Playground Builders and decided to bring in some top soil and sod for grass.

“We had to bring in top soil, sod, rough up the grass, remove all the dangerous debris,” Reynolds said.

The whole thing was done in a single day at a cost of $155.

From there, Reynolds wanted to tour possible sites for a new playground. That tour brought him to the Tajwar Sultan Girls’ School, a school with 4,632 students and no playground.

“We know that play is an integral part of growing,” he said. “There was one broken basketball hoop that is in place. And while I was there, I witnessed 15 girls trying to play with what appeared to be some kind of a ball to throw through a broken hoop.”

On the way into Kabul from the airport he had seen a manufacturer with a slide parked outside in “UN blue.” After some negotiating, he and the manufacturer, along with representatives from Hewad, the organization that helped him establish the playground in Afghanistan, came to an agreement to build five benches, five swing sets, five slides and a soccer pitch goal. The total cost was $4,540 US, including transportation and installation.

The next step for Playground Builders is to look into another project in Baghdad, where Reynolds has already established a playground in the Northeast section of the city, in one of the poorer neighbourhoods.

For him, a man who has lived and worked in a giant playground like Whistler, play is clearly one of the most important things in life.