The spread of COVID-19 is generating unprecedented delays, disruptions and uncertainty on construction projects all over the world. Travel restrictions, social distancing and quarantines are increasingly disrupting supply chains, contractor workforces and the availability of personnel for project inspections. In addition, breakdowns in communications, staff turn-over and lock-downs in the cities we serve exacerbate the issues.
The enormity of disruptions have made our work all the more challenging. But if anything, COVID — 19 has only strengthened our resolve to give children in orphanages the outlets they so desperately need. Life in an orphanage, even in ideal circumstances, is a life of deprivation.
Some may call it persistence, others may call it sheer luck — but for me, it feels miraculous that the stars aligned, once again, just as they always seem to do for BLOOM’s work. Our team, both in the US and in Morocco, found creative ways to jump through hurdles.
By January 2020, we’d raised the funds required to complete our 2020 projects:
1.) A courtyard PlayGarden for 160 kids at Dar Al- Atfal Orphanage in the coastal town of Essaouira and,
2.) An accessible PlayGarden for 100 children with disabilities at Al-Ihssane’s Baouafi Center Orphanage in Morocco’s capital city of Casablanca (our most ambitious project to date).
In early March 2020, we’d completed an initial design for Casablanca’s Baouafi Center and sent the design to the director for final approval. We were on track for an installation in the spring of 2020.
But within just a few days, Morocco was under a complete lockdown. Our projects came to an abrupt halt. With no seeming end in sight, I contacted Said Mallouky, PlayPower’s Managing Director in Morocco in hopes that we could at least begin designing our second, smaller project in Essaouira while we waited for the final approval on our larger project at the Baouafi Center. His office was indefinitely closed. He suggested that we work directly with our in-country distributer, Palitash, and use equipment that was already in stock. It would save us design and shipment delays. Under normal circumstances, we’d arrange a site visit between the orphanage and the playground design company. But traveling between cities was no longer an option. Palitash and the orphanage staff worked together to collect the information required. By August, we had also finalized our design for the Essaouira project. By November, the Essaouira project was completed.
Our Treasurer, Mona Reza, was in-country in August and able to obtain final approval on the Baouafi Center design plan as well. We placed the order for the equipment immediately, taking into consideration the significant shipment delays. In-stock play equipment was not an option for the Baouafi Center, as most of the equipment was chosen very carefully, with the specific needs of the children in mind. Accessible playground equipment for inclusive spaces is rarely available readily around the world.
With a four months margin for delivery of the equipment; we expect most, if not all, to arrive by early to mid-December. Today, I can proudly report that we’re are on track to complete our planned 2020 projects by the end of the year!
We thank each and every one of you who make up our amazing tribe, our Board for their stellar leadership, the orphanage directors for their courage and compassion, as well as the remarkable ingenuity and professionalism of our partners in play, PlayPower and Palitash. We are looking forward to ringing in the new year with two new PlayGardens in Morocco’s orphanages.
Hope blooms when children play!