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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2619

US Agency for International Development Opens New Playground on Negombo Beach

USAID has now built 80 playgrounds in Tsunami Affected Regions to Help Children

Colombo, 24 January, ( On a warm January morning, children and adults alike gathered near brightly colored swings and slides at the Negombo Beach Park in the Gampaha District just north of Colombo. The congregation was not waiting in line for rides, but was instead gathering to celebrate the opening of a new playground built through joint funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

The devastating tsunami that hit on December 26, 2004 caused considerable loss of life, injury and destruction of public and private property. Among the damage to much of the coastal areas’ community infrastructure, the loss of protected and safe play places has impacted children significantly and created an obstacle to their emotional and physical recovery.

The Playgrounds Project, which began in the summer of 2005, is a two-and-a-half-year joint initiative aiming to build 85 quality playgrounds for tsunami-affected children; thereby promoting their physical and emotional recovery and developmental growth. Today, with 80 parks completed, the project is in its final stages. Thus far, the Playgrounds Project has built high quality playgrounds in Gampaha, Colombo, Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, and Ampara.

USAID Mission Director Rebecca Cohn was on hand for the opening ceremony and spoke to the crowd of proud local officials and community leaders, as well as eager preschoolers. “The main objective of this project is to help your children rediscover their smiles and reinvigorate hope,” Mrs. Cohn said. “Physical activity is vital to the childhood development process. It is for this reason that it is incumbent upon us to provide our children with improved places for their recreation activities.”

With that, the red ribbon, ceremonially blocking the entrance to the still glistening playground, was cut and immediately lost in a rush of shrieking children clamoring to be first down the twisting slides or to hop aboard a swing to fly on its maiden voyage.

- Asian Tribune -

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