Hitting the beach in Thailand

Kho Pha Ngan
Emma enjoys an evening on the beach.

I’m sitting in under a fan in an internet cafe in Khao Lak, Thailand, sipping on an iced coffee from a 7-11 (which are on every street corner). We packed our trusty Macbook Pro between a couple sleeping bags, said a couple Hail Mary’s for it, and shipped it home on our last day in Ukraine – so we have to go old-school with the internet cafes to stay in touch.

Anyway, we’re alive and sweating and enjoying our break between the stresses of Peace Corps and the inevitable post-Peace Corps “let’s figure our lives out again” phase.

Milirativny Neighborhood Playground

Milaritivniy Before
On April 28th, the post holes had been dug in the Milaritivniy neighborhood—near our very first apartment (where we lived our first month at site).
Milaritivniy Half-done
Within a few days, the fence had been installed and painted.

Our third playground is in a neighborhood called Milirativny. A bit farther out towards the edge of town, it’s the neighborhood where we lived during our first month in Sofievka. We chose a nice spot in a grassy area near some chestnut trees in front of the apartment buildings.

The timeline for this playground paralleled the one in Molodyozhny. We painted the fence here in early May theday after we finished the fence at Molodyozhny, and we waited the same two weeks for the carpenters to build the rest before we could paint it in another marathon volunteer day. The residents really came through for us and helped, though, and the results are something to be proud of.

As we held the final opening ceremony here and watched kids running around, we felt a great deal of pride at what we managed to do for our beloved hometown in Ukraine. Thank you again to everyone who supported us and made this possible. The people of Sofievka won’t soon forget your generosity!

Milaritivniy Half-half-done
A week later, the bench and trash can were finished, and the other structures had been started.
Making it Pretty
It was a great day for painting playgrounds - and we were experts by then.
Ribbon Cutting #3
Superstar volunteer Solya and another local kid cut the ribbon.
50 Years of PC
Congrats to Peace Corps for making it 50 years!
Milaritivniy After
Finally, more than a month after it was begun, the Milirativny playground is finished and open for business!

Molodyozhny Neighborhood Playground

Molodyozhny Before
This is the Molodyozhny site before any work was done...
Molodyozhny Half-done
...halfway finished...
Moldyozhny After
... and Molodyozhny after we painted everything.
Tom Sawyer Would Be Proud
Our volunteers made quick work of painting the fence.

The second of our little parks is located in a neighborhood called Molodyozhny, surrounded by several apartments and a preschool. This part of town is just behind the secondary school, so a lot of teachers and young families live in the apartments.

The carpenters didn’t get started on this playground until the end of April – well late enough to make us nervous about our timeline. First, they cleared a couple trees for space, and put up the fence, bench, and trash can. We organized a community work day right away to paint what was finished. We had a lot of help from residents that day, and it was fun to see neighbors coming together and volunteering – something that doesn’t happen very often here.

Once we painted the fence and bench, we had to push for nearly two weeks before the carpenters finally finished the playground on the very day of our grant deadline (which we had already extended). We were frustrated by the delays, needless to say, but we organized a work day for the next day to get it painted. This time, with such short notice, only a few very dedicated neighbors were able to help. Nevertheless, after five or six hours of sloshing on red, yellow, and blue paint, we managed to mostly finish. We returned a couple evenings later with a ladder to get the high parts and some other details, and then prepared for an opening ceremony a couple days after that.

When the time finally came to hang balloons, take photos, make speeches, and cut the red ribbon, we enjoyed the moment. Kids ran around and had a blast, parents sat on the bench and chatted, and we gave off a big sigh of relief!

Climbing Wall
It even has a climbing wall! That's Mountain Dew Extreme™!
Time to play!