On a recent trip (Jan/Feb 2015) to Uganda and Ethiopia, we installed 3 new swing sets, finished a wooden one that partially completed, and made a few repairs to several existing swings. I love installing swing sets around the world. It’s fun overcoming the logistical problems, and it’s great to see the kids having a fun time swinging back and forth.
The first one we installed was in the small, isolated community of Kyarumba, Uganda, at the southern end of the Rwenzori Mountains (also called Mountains of the Moon). Hank Pellissier, MTA’s humanitarian manager, had other projects in the area, so this community was a natural. The double-wide 4-seat swing set was installed inside the confines of an elementary school’s property. Local school officials helped with the installation. This swing set was funded by Hank. According to our contact in Kyarumba (Chrispus), “Due to the installation of the swing set, the number of students has increased from 240 to 287.” Which means, of course, that they need more outdoor playground equipment.
Our driver for our Uganda trip was Gabriel. He and his wife run a nursery and preschool in a small community south of Mbarara. On our way from Kyarumba to Masaka, we stopped at their school. Using the experience that he had gotten helping us construct swings, Gabriel had constructed his own out of wood. It was very nicely done.
In Masaka (located 120 kilometers south of Kampala), we repaired two swing sets. One we had constructed on a previous trip, and another that was constructed by someone else and had fallen into disrepair. On the former, many of the welds had failed on the locally-made swing-seat hangers. We replaced the hangers with commercially ones that we had brought from the U.S. On the latter (an orphanage/school), the chain and seats were missing, so we simply replaced them.
The second swing set we installed was a combination repair job and 2-seat swing addition. At Survival Elementary School near Lira (northern Uganda), we needed to repair a tire swing that we had installed earlier. The pipe we had purchased was not heavy enough to hold the weight of multiple kids swinging on the tire. So we shortened the distance between the legs, and at the same time added an extension which allowed for 2 additional swing seats. Survival School staff, so named because it is located on an abandoned refugee camp site, has been very diligent in taking care of their outdoor playground equipment. Prior to our arrival, they had carefully painted every structure. The school now has 10 swing seats, 1 tire swing, and an elevated fort.
While in Lira, we also helped a preschool staff complete a small wooden swing set that had been only partially completed. We added the rope and swing seats.
While in Lira we also repaired a swing set that had been installed earlier. Like the Survival tire swing, there was an issue with the strength of the horizontal pipe. So we shortened the distance between the legs. Also, in Lira we visited a baby orphanage where we had previous installed a swing set (with basket seats for the babies). The swings are a big hit with the babies.
At the end of my African trip, I few to Ethiopia for a 9-day adventure there. At a rural community school located about 30 kilometers outside of Lalibela (northern Ethiopia), we delivered a 2-seat swing set. While I was visiting 2 of the ancient Christian churches in the area, our local fabricator and several locals installed the swing set. They did a great job.