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    Special Forces build playgrounds to promote peace in Kandahar province

    KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — For a war-torn nation, the concept of childhood and innocent play was thought to be all but forgotten. The trash littered roads and dilapidated housing are a common site in the Panjwayee District. Barefoot and scantily clothed, the poverty stricken children in Kandahar province find entertainment with sticks and abandoned trash and too often, become the victims of roadside accidents. While the construction of school houses is becoming more frequent throughout southern Afghanistan, the children are all too often left to their own devices. But for one small village, the recent completion of a fenced playground offers a safe place to reinvent the custom of play.

    High-pitched screams and excited laughter are heard as nearly thirty children scramble to the newly completed playground a mere one hundred meters from the village housing. Located between a bazaar and abandoned Russian barracks now used as apartments, the playground is easily accessible for all the local children. As the sun settles, light reflects off the aluminum slide as children mingle with the shadows, reluctant to abandon their newly acquired play space. Children of all ages appear night after night, when chores are complete, to escape into a world of imagination. This area is theirs alone; a place free of broken glass, insurgents and bombs.

    "We built this playground to promote security for the children," explains a civil affairs captain overseeing the project. "The village has a school but lacked a safe environment for children to play and socialize. The children need this area for developmental progression. The advent of a playground provides one of the most effective methods to enhance their standard of living while simultaneously decreasing their association with insurgents or insurgent activity."

    "The village elders closely monitor the playground and the local Afghan national army routinely patrols the area," remarks the captain. "The ANA also ensure the safety of the children by inspecting the playground before the children are released from school for the day. This prevents the emplacement of explosive devices."

    The playground, consisting of swing sets, monkey bars, a seesaw and a slide, will one day also attract older villagers. Special Forces have planted fifty trees and will soon deliver multiple wooden benches. Upon completion, the playground will have evolved into a park, offering shelter from the piercing sun and a safe haven for all ages.



    Date Taken: 12.31.2009
    Date Posted: 12.31.2009 08:49
    Story ID: 43333
    Location: KANDAHAR, AF

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