|Background: With the Japanese students, we have visited Kovalam
on several occasions. The first time was February, 2005, two just months
after the tsunami which destroyed many of the houses in Kovalam's fishing
community and killed 8 people.
(To see our video on Tsunami relief camps,
Few people, including the many NGOs that responded to the emergency,
realized that the Dalit colonies were also badly affected. So, we decided to
focus our 'development' efforts on this sector.
During a visit in July, 2006
Dave asked leaders of the Dalit community to come up with a project that
would benefit everyone. They decided a children's playground should have
first priority. The leaders chose a site on the grounds of a Hindu temple in "Kotai"
|Design: Back in Tokyo,
members of the Japan Student's Fund raised about $1,000 for the
playground and a Japanese architect, Mr. Hiroshi Wakabayashi, provided a
design based on a playground he had designed for a school in Tokyo. (Click
on thumbnails to the right.)
|Construction: When we arrived back in Kovalam in March 2007, we
realized we would have to modify the design because of our small budget and
the difficulty of working in the colony. Dave sketched out a design in the
sand and the
villagers made a model from which we worked.
|Material: The first
step was to find the material. There are no "do it yourself" shops in
India, you have to begin with the raw material--in this case unfinished
|When the logs were delivered
to the site, the village women peeled them by hand and the young men
erected them according to our 'model.'
To left, the young men of village who
helped build the play structure.
|Once everything was in place,
the students began painting the structure, choosing bright colors.
|After about a week, the play structure
See the children at play in this short video (CLICK