Written by Phyllis Richards
In the crowded neighborhoods of the Sabra-Shatilla Refuge Camp, space is always at a premium. Housing conditions are cramped and there is very little room to spare. Children have nowhere to play outside except the streets, or, if they’re lucky, asphalt covered space in a school. The Joint Christian Committee for Social Services in Lebanon (JCC) saw this need and set about meeting it by providing a safe, grassy, outdoor playground for their kindergarten children and other users of the JCC Sabra center.
Where once there was a dilapidated old building there now exists an open, light-filled space with robust play equipment. Here the children can run around and throw a ball without fear of being hit by a car or a scooter and without having to retrieve their ball from a filthy gutter or under a car. Instead of garbage under their feet there is grass.
The playground has space for games and brand-new equipment for the children to enjoy. This not only allows for a fun time, but will give excellent opportunities for the children to increase their hand-eye coordination, balance and general fitness. Such a space also gives the kindergarten teachers a chance to organize team games outdoors for the first time.
Bringing this dream to reality has been a true team effort. Generous donations from BibleLands, the United Churches of Christ (UCC) in the USA and Right to Play have been key in this amazing transformation. Volunteers from the JCC center in Dbayeh spent several long days clearing the ground of rubble and cement before laying topsoil to prepare the ground for grass. The director of the agricultural program in Tyre gave advice and assistance with the planting, care and maintenance of the beautiful new lawn and current students have ensured that it is kept watered throughout Beirut’s long, hot summer.
JCC is proud of this safe play initiative knowing it will add to the development of the children in the centers by giving new opportunities to play safely outdoors and discover the natural world.
This project was supported by One Great Hour of Sharing, the United Church of Christ and Global Ministries.