Hardly anyone receives permission to travel here for any purpose, but on September 24, two 30-passenger aircraft will leave Miami International Airport in Florida with over 50 enthusiastic volunteers to travel to the island of Cuba to participate in a project whose goal is to build four playgrounds in one week for the children of Havana. These American volunteers will join local Cuban families to assemble and erect new swing sets, climbing structures, crawling tubes, triple twists, turbo towers, infant playhouses and many more pieces of the latest playground equipment.
This project was the idea of an entrepreneur and real estate investor, Bill Hauf, who six years ago formed a nonprofit foundation, It’s Just The Kids, Inc., to fulfill the unrealized dreams of children. Hauf’s organization will construct four brand new playgrounds in record time, utilizing American volunteers working alongside Cuban family members, building friendships as well as playgrounds.
No PlayStation, X-Box or Nintendo for these children: only the latest in playground equipment that will take these children off traffic filled streets to the safety of a new neighborhood park playground.
Two years ago, in May 2003, Hauf’s organization built three similar playgrounds after investing four years of tenacious effort in the bureaucratic process. Finally, he received the approvals necessary from both governments to build these playgrounds, which took a quarter million dollars and 100 Americans working in friendship with Cuban family members to assemble and erect this equipment.
Cuba may be miles apart in geography, but for one short week, through the joint efforts of caring people and a common goal, the people, if not the countries, got a little closer together.
With the intent to continue the success they achieved two years before, 50 American volunteers will arrive in Cuba on Saturday morning, September 24. They will immediately head for their hotel for a quick check-in, light lunch and then be sped across Havana Harbor to the neighborhood of Cotterro to start unpacking shipping containers, sorting parts, pouring concrete, assembling structures and erecting playground structures for the first of the four playground sites. No time will be lost by these volunteers in trying to fulfill these children’s dreams.
Language may be a barrier for some, but no lack of translation can hide the joy in friendship as people of two cultures meet and make new friends and form new bonds that transcend generations.
At night the group will enjoy Cuban family hospitality, listen to Cuban music, savor Cuban food, maybe see a ballet or baseball game and learn about Cuban culture and life in modern day Havana.
The week will conclude with ribbon cutting ceremonies and a farewell celebration dinner on Friday night, where Cuban families will join with their American counterparts for an exchange of addresses and a plethora of thank yous and mutual gratitude for such a rewarding experience.
It’s Just the Kids, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the needs of children at home and around the world. Its goal is to help children by providing that which is necessary to promote their physical and mental health and development. Safe playground equipment in family neighborhoods is one way to reach that goal and to enhance the emotional, physical and psychological quality of children’s lives.
To learn more about this program, visit: [url=http://www.itsjustthekids.org]http://www.itsjustthekids.org[/url]
It’s Just The Kids, Inc.
Bill Hauf, 858-481-1955