Today is a very special day. Sister Mary and I have exchanged many Emails and hard-mails regarding a project over the past year that we call Steve Park. This is a small playground that has been built. It was in the planning for many months and today it is all finished and ready to be dedicated in Phalsa, India.
It has been been made in Memory of a wonderful family man named Steve Seide who lived in Florial Park , New York.
The Sisters were up very late sorting all of our donations out and getting everything ready for today. It will be a fun day for many children… 146 to be exact. This is a very remote area and the playground is a perfect fit for this small school, as the children had nothing to play with. The girls would draw pictures in the soft sand and the boys would hit small tree branches with bigger longer branches.
At about 7AM, after a quick breakfast with the Sisters, I took a walk across the compound to see the new playground. My eyes could not believe what they were seeing! I saw a big slide, a swing, two see-saws and a nice merry go round. The area is all fenced in with a fence, a pretty cement wall, and a gate. Everything is painted and looks absolutely beautiful. I truly am in a state of shock after seeing everything. WOW. What a wonderful job has been done—it’s perfect. Even the paperwork of receipts and estimates Sister sent me were perfect.
How many times in your life have you had something done and it comes out 100 times better than you ever imagined it would. This is one of those jobs.... I can’t wait for all the children to come to school today so they can see the playground and get to play with everything. It is just great! Unbelievable. Great !
And to make it better, I brought with me all the donations in a small truck, making it a very special day for everyone myself included....
To think this was all done in an extremely remote area. I just can’t believe it. The Sisters tell me that the work crew came from Rourkela, which is about 100 miles away. Each time they came, they would stay for about five days living in tents to make everything. After the five days they would return to Rourkela to pre-fab some things, and then return again for five more days of work. This was done three times to make everything.
Grass was going to be planted in the playground, but because snakes like grass, special soft brown sand was brought in from about 40 kilometers away. The playground area was covered with it to make it a nice soft, safe area for the children to play in.
Many people sent me stuffed animals this year, and we had enough for everyone. Debbie alone in Maryland sent in a big box full of her prized Beanie Babies. Sonal sent me crayons and sweets in memory of her father, Gunvant. The Sisters bought lots of food for the children. I also received tee shirts from Sharyn. And don't forget all the money that was donated from Steve's family, friends, and co workers to make all of the playground equipment. Along with help from the ‘Angels from Heaven’ donors.
We had everything to make this a wonderful day, to dedicate this small playground in Steve Seide's name.
The school bus travels 80 kilometers twice each day to pick up the children and bring them to school, and to get them home after school.
When the bus pulled up to the front gate of the convent, I was there to greet them. The Sisters washed my hands and all the children sang songs. I watched as the boys play with sticks and the girls draw pictures in the sand. It was interesting to see how happy all of the kids were, and how well they played together.
At about 10AM Sister Rose (the head Sister) told all the children to get in line, and we walked across the yard to the playground. Here a red ribbon had been put across the front gate of the playground.
It was time to say a few words and dedicate the playground in Steve Seide’s name, and cut the ribbon.
It was just great to cut the ribbon. My only wish is that Steve was there with me.
Then it was time for me to walk into the playground and look at everything close up. Wow was it good.
To be 100 % honest I had tears running down my face and really could not talk to the Sisters for a few minutes. I could not believe that everything was finally finished and looked this good.
The children were allowed into the playground to play one class at a time, because there were so many children. It was wonderful seeing everyone so happy. The photos below will tell that story. The kids had never seen anything like this before. Even the Sisters were so happy.
At about noon the children sang songs and then they had a sports competition which involved running & jumping, ect. Some of the children winning a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd prize.
At lunch everyone received a nice meal then the Sisters gave out all of our donations: stuffed animals, crayons, sweets, tee shirts along with some other items. It was so good to see the kids so happy.
As the day came to an end, I stood at the playground fence and just watched all of the kids play. At that time, I realized this day was a day that I hoped to NEVER forget. Because it had so much to do with love and smiles and was so much fun for everyone. Many people worked so hard for this to all come together for the children, and I am proud to say it was perfect in every way.
Enjoy the photos below.
Thank You for all of your help,