Painting the Playground

These “Before” and “After” photos tell the story of what Peace Corps can accomplish with a local community, sometimes within a couple of hours.

All three photos above show a playground in central Ialoveni. The left photo, which I shot on Tuesday morning, shows how faded and dingy the equipment looked. The middle and right photos show some of the same equipment on Tuesday evening after a Peace Corps group joined with local residents to give the playground a paint job and makeover. (“Vopsit” means “painted.” The sign on the left says: Help us put the “love” in Ialoveni.)IMG_6873

Nine Peace Corps trainees who’ve been living in Ialoveni for the past two months organized the event, which included ice cream and games for children. They’ve been staying with host families and studying every day at Liceul Teoretic “Petre Ştefănucă,” a school near the library where I work. IMG_6852

Next week they will swear in as volunteers and begin serving in the community and organizational development (COD) program for Peace Corps Moldova. They’ll serve with a companion COD group of trainees who’ve been living and taking language classes in the nearby village of Sociteni.IMG_6849 Those trainees held their community service event last week, a clean-up of Sociteni’s main street.

Both groups of COD trainees are looking forward to finally finishing their preparation and moving to their permanent posts to begin assisting local governments, libraries, nongovernmental organizations and others across Moldova. IMG_6847Two other groups of trainees— in English education and health education — will also swear in next week. IMG_6858Altogether, more than 50 trainees are expected to join Peace Corps Moldova’s current volunteers, most of whom swore in a year ago and will continue serving until next summer, Champa and me among them.

You can see the Ialoveni trainees posing here at the end of Tuesday’s event with Mayor Sergiu Armașu and a couple of local girls, Champa and me. We participated along with two other current volunteers (Reggie and Beth) and an impressive number of community members.

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For both of us, it was gratifying to watch our two communities — Peace Corps and Ialoveni — come together for such a worthwhile cause. Ialovei is our home for another year and this playground next to the main piața, or shopping area, looks so much better now. If the kids loved it before, they’re going to love it even more after the makeover.

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