Guest post- NVOC Men build a great playground!

When Paul was starting up the mens shop, there were many people who discouraged him, saying that trying to teach Tuaregs to weld would never work. They said they wouldn’t learn, that they were too proud for a labour oriented job, and that they were too uneducated. But we knew otherwise. Our hearts yearned to see these Tuareg men, many of them young fathers, learn a skill that could give them pride and honor and provide for their families for years to come.

A major project has just been completed by the shop and we couldn’t be prouder of all the hard work and growth that these guys have achieved. The pictures speak for themselves, showing the beginnings in a dusty field and broken down VW bus to an amazing, fun playground that patients at CURE International Chilren’s Hospital will enjoy for many years! Not only was a major project realized, but the apprentices have grown immensely in their skills, grown in their love for each other and in their team work!

I am happy to attach here the original words written by the project head from the hospital, Julie Korn.

Our Playground is Finished!

Our playground is finished!

We have recently finished work on the playground for our hospital here in Niger, and it looks great. The kids at the hospital had to learn how to use some of the equipment (I don’t think any of them had ever been on a slide before, and some of them even looked pretty suspiciously at the steps!), but now they love it and are already spending as much time at the playground as possible.

The idea for this playground came from our sister hospital Beit CURE Malawi – a few years ago they opened up a playground with a renovated/renewed ambulance, and when I saw the pictures I knew that we needed to do something similar here in Niger. After all, we are a children’s hospital and children need a place to play. At that time, I had an intern here from Gordon College, Zoey Meyer-Jens, learning about art therapy, and we worked together on the project proposal. We even went together to the junkyard and scoped out an old Mercedes van and brought it back to the hospital to be the playground “ambulance.”

After coming up with a design, I was able to work together with Paul M and Charles C and Paul’s team of Nigerien welders (from Niger Vocational Training School) to bring the playground to life! They worked long and hard on this project, and essentially had to custom-make everything in the playground except the van (and even the van had to basically be totally rebuilt). In the end, the results speak for themselves! The playground is a beautiful addition to our hospital that will provide our patients with room to play, to have fun, to use their imaginations and to express themselves.

In addition to support from CURE International, this project was funded by Amy King, a friend of Maureen Sloan who has been a passionate advocate and source of encouragement to CURE Niger since our hospital opened. This project has also funded by the Gordon in Orvieto program, directed by my brother-in-law Matt Doll. The students of the program did multiple art exhibits, and the proceeds were given towards this playground.

Thanks to everyone who took part in providing these kids with a place to play!

“The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.” Zechariah 8:5



A dusty field with a broken down rusty bus is the starting point.


The cement pilings have been dug and poured and the anchors for the shade sail are ready to go! Shade it required in Niger’s heat!

The kids at play in the old bus. A lot of work went into taking out all the rusty edges and making it safe. Added benches, and other fun features and a new floor and way to climb on top.

Kids, in various stages of surgery and recovery and casts, enjoy playing in the new bus

If you would like to see more pictures, check out Julie’s original blog at :

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