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Foreign Volunteers Japan – Playground of Hope Project

Playground of Hope Project

Today was an exciting day. The first round of play-sets were officially opened in Ishinomaki, courtesy Michael Anop’s phenomenal Playground of Hope initiative. Big thanks to Jamie El-Banna and the NPO It’s Not Just Mud for assembling the Miyagi sets! The project addresses a very real need for kids stuck in temporary housing to just be kids again.

Over the coming months and years to come, the Playground of Hope project organizers, members, volunteers and supporters will be working hard to fund-raise, draw interest, and put in countless hours of sweat and tears into providing these sets for the children living in Temporary Housing across Tohoku.

To give an idea of the time, effort, skills and sheer determination that went into this project, here is a quick walk through about the process of assembling these sets.

Playground of Hope – in Warehouse


Warehouse: Day 1

The first batch of wood and supplies for building the initial play-sets arrives at the Warehouse in Chiba. Michael Anop is carefully counting and confirming each of the parts for the first complete set.







Playground of Hope – Parts Assembled


On site in Ishinomaki: Day 2

“This how we had to start” posts volunteer Angelo Favaron, who was part of the INJM test-building team.







Playground of Hope Wood Chips


On site in Ishinomaki: Day 3

Nearly 2 tons of wood chips are assembled. The wood chips are an essential element for setting-up the play set.  With a depth of 15cm, the wood chips will dramatically soften the fall of any children who might lose their balance when playing on the sets.







Building in the Rain


Building in the Rain: Days 4 and 5






Digging the Wood Chip Pit - Day 5
Digging the Wood Chip Pit – Day 6


Digging the Pit: Day 6

Day 6 and 7 involved digging up, collecting and sorting heavy gravel into large piles. The gravel is to be used as a base layer that will then covered in 15cm of soft wood chips. This stage was conducted on the morning of March 11th. In the afternoon, INJM members attended a local memorial ceremony in the district to pay respects to those lost in the disaster.




Day 20: Jamie and Michael in front of completed set #1


Nearly 20 days later the first set has been completely assembled, with plenty of time to go before the official opening ceremony.

These play sets will certainly brighten the day of local children across the Tsunami-affected region. As one member of INJM puts it “Just yesterday I saw some kids playing on a vacant lot of land in front of their house, which used to be someones home. This will be a much nicer place for them to play!







Playground of Hope – First Round completed.


Day 25: After nearly a month, the first round of play sets are officially opened to the public. Seriously thanks are due to Michael Anop for being inspired to make a tangible difference in the lives of the disaster-affected children, and tirelessly working towards realizing that dream courtesy the Playground of Hope project.  Thanks as well to Jamie El-Banna for committing the volunteer staff of the It’s Not Just Mud project towards providing local logitics and building the sets. Huge thanks as well to the individual project sponsors as well.  Without whom, this project would not be able to expand to the scope of reaching as many disaster-affected communities as possible.





Thane Camus introduces the Playground of Hope project, and its aims to provide outdoor play equipment to children in the disaster-hit communities of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.


The Playground of Hope The Playground of Hope is a non-profit project project run by Side by Side International for the purposes of remedying a critical shortage critical shortage of play parks for children living in  disaster-affected areas areasareas of Fukushima, Iwate and Miyage prefectures. Side by Side International is a nonprofit organization established in 1985 and and was granted special was granted special “Nintei” NPO tax exempt status by Japanese National Tax Agency in 2010

Photos courtesty: Angelo Favaron, Michael Anop, Jamie El-Banna, Michael Connolly, Sabine Taras-Thompson

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