On March 1st, 2013 twenty three members of CDRS International embarked on a trip to Hoi An, Vietnam.  Our mission was to erect a playground for the children of Cam Thanh ward in Hoi An.  When we arrived at the airport in Da Nang, we were met by Mrs. Dang Huong Giang (or ‘Jazz’ as she became known to everyone) the director of Action for the City, and the Mayor of Cam Thanh ward, Mr. Le Thanh.  On our way to our ‘build hotel’ we stopped at the site for the new playground. Volunteers with Action for the City had cleared and readied the land for the build and we were very eager to get started.  When we arrived at the site, we were greeted by Huongiang Nguyen (Jazz Junior) who was to be our translator and Vietnamese liaison for the duration of our stay.

Three days of rain followed by many more days of +28 degree temperature with a relative humidity of 80% made the building of the playground very challenging.  But the members of CDRS International and the Vietnamese volunteers worked hard side-by-side to finish the project on time.

On day four of the build, we were waiting for our ride back to the hotel when the local schools were dismissed for the day.  If there was such a thing as a ‘tsunami of children’, that’s what we saw.  Hundreds of elementary aged children on foot and on bicycles streamed down the road towards the playground site.  They all smiled and waved at us, and looked excitedly at the progress we were making with their new place to play.

At the Grand Opening of the playground we were entertained by children dancing and singing, and one little girl read a speech she had written, telling us that she was very happy that we had come to build them a place to play, and that she and her friends would take very good care of everything so that generations to come could enjoy the “Canada Playground”.

We gave the children of Hoi An something they would never have dreamed of – a beautiful modern playground -  but they gave us much more. We left Vietnam with a warm feeling in our hearts, and a sense of pride in being Canadians who care.  We’ll be meeting in the near future to decide on our next project for 2015.