There is an American charity entitled “Courts For Kids” that was started over ten years ago. Their idea was that building a playing court (which is essentially nothing but a big concrete slab) would be an easy project for Americans to work with local villagers in developing countries. The youth of the village would benefit from the new facility, while the visiting Americans would learn about life in a developing country—a win-win situation. Apparently many folks who participated previously with this charity often add a few days of their own vacation after the project is completed to enjoy the area.
Courts For Kids (CFK) invites communities around the world to apply for their program. They directly provide $5000 US dollars towards the construction of the playing court. CFK also solicits work teams from colleges, churches, large employers, etc. Sometimes, especially with a destination that might be of interest (such as the beautiful “Nature Island” of Dominica), they open it up to the general public to apply to join the work team.
I submitted a grant application in 2016, and recently learned that it was approved. We are very excited to have won this competition! Not only will this be the first CFK project in Dominica—it will be the first time that CFK has come to ANY island in the Eastern Caribbean! We want to make our project successful so that other villages in this region can benefit from this charity in the future.
Courts For Kids' standard agreement is to provide:
* $5,000 (in U.S. dollars—which translates to about $13,350 in Eastern Caribbean dollars) to be used for construction materials and/or labor costs. [They say a typical 28 meter by 15 meter court costs between $8-10,000 U.S. dollars, so they want the local community to help pay the balance for the court. However, in-kind donations can be counted towards the community's total.]
* Expertise from completing courts all over the world.
* A team of American volunteers to help assist with the manual labor and prepared to learn about the culture and community.
* Fiber mesh to reinforce concrete as a replacement for wire mesh.
* Sports equipment, including basketball rims and backboards.
My village must do the following:
* Commit to raising money and/or donated materials to help with the remainder of court costs.
* Supply volunteer labor from the community.
* Ensure all prep-work is completed prior to the American volunteer group’s arrival.
* Identify an experienced local contractor to oversee the project, acquire the materials, and be accountable to the timeline.
* Coordinate in-country logistics (lodging, travel from airport, food, etc.). The American volunteers will pay their own expenses and expect to stay within the community in simple accommodations (we are thinking about converting the new preschool plus the adjacent old preschool into makeshift dormitories for the week they are here).
* Ensure the safety of the group (not a problem here!).
* Provide opportunities for a rich cultural exchange between the two groups (we've already reached out to a couple of cultural dance groups to perform). In addition, at least one full day will be devoted solely to tourist activities.
I've learned from discussions with CFK that they were impressed with my village's response to Tropical Storm Erika. I had written in my Erika blog post about how the villagers here chose to immediately work together to dig out on our own, by cleaning up landslides with shovels and wheelbarrows, rather than waiting on the government to arrive with excavators and backhoes.
In addition, my blog itself was viewed as another positive aspect, because work team members would be able to read all about life in this village prior to their arrival. Finally, the fact that our court will also be used for netball was of interest to them, especially after reading that our girls don't have a place to practice here (as I wrote about in this blog post). I'm glad that these reasons resulted in our village being chosen!
So, if you've been reading my blog and you are intrigued about life in Dominica, click on this link: http://courtsforkids.org/july-21-29-2017-open-trip-to-dominica/ to explore the application (and the fees) to become part of the work crew coming to my village for a week. Anyone can come--the group already has a few adults and their children, so parents and their kids are encouraged to join us.
You'll get a brief taste of what life is like in Dominica, as well as a sampling of what it is like to be a member of the Peace Corps. We will be doing a good service for my students, and at the same time you will have a memorable experience to last a lifetime. Come join me!
If you can't fly to Dominica for a week, you can still help this worthwhile project with a tax deductible donation to Courts For Kids. Any amount, no matter how small, would be welcomed by the good people in my village! Courts For Kids can receive financial donations designated for my project via their website at http://courtsforkids.org/donate/. Just choose “Donations toward host-country partner” and indicate in the comments section that this is for the Dominica project. We would be extremely grateful! And if you can't come or contribute, we also appreciate your positive thoughts from afar. Thank you!