Land Purchased for First School in Wakiso

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 | posted by Doug Bunch |

Global Playground proudly announces the purchase of land in Uganda for its first school. Earlier this month, Global Playground in conjunction with Building Tomorrow purchased approximately three acres in Wakiso, the district which surrounds the capital city of Kampala, between the villages of Gurwe and Kanziro. Construction of the school will begin next month and conclude early next year.

Wakiso is an area of obvious need. Global Playground's school will serve a rural area with a large school-age population, many of whom are orphans and other vulnerable children. During a visit last October, Board members Edward Branagan and Doug Bunch met with the commissioner of Wakiso and his ministers of education, who will operate the school and sustain its long-term growth. The commissioner explained that at a time when HIV and AIDS plague the people of Wakiso, literacy -- an ability to read something as simple as the directions on a medicine bottle -- will save lives.

The local community, whose members will play a significant role in building and supporting Global Playground's new school, is very eager to get started. In January, Global Playground Board members will travel to Uganda to meet members of the community and view the progress of construction.

Check back soon for pictures and updates!

Phad Thai for Education

Friday, August 24, 2007 | posted by Global Playground News |
Naovarat Branagan, a Maryland resident, is winning the hearts of many children in developing countries. Driven by her own experience growing up in Thailand, she has decided to donate one hundred percent of the proceeds from her catering efforts to Global Playground's projects around the globe.

About a decade ago, Naovarat decided to put her culinary expertise in authentic Thai cuisine and deserts to use for the benefit of nonprofit organizations. By catering various functions during the past ten years she helped raise funds for the Washington, DC based Hainan Association and Wat Thai Theravada Buddhist Temple. Now--with great pride--she is helping Global Playground by cooking up the best phad thai, spring rolls, and satay around.

Naovarat feels a deep personal connection to Global Playground and its commitment to giving children in developing countries access to education. Having grown up in Thailand, Naovarat can personally attest to the significant lack of resources in Thailand's educational system. Fortunately, she was lucky enough to attend school in Bangkok where she could learn in actual school buildings rather than in the small roof huts found in rural Thailand. Through her catering efforts, she hopes that others will be able to look back on their childhood and be thankful for having a similar experience.

So far, Naovarat has catered two functions in the Washington, DC area for Global Playground's benefit. One of these functions was Global Playground's "An Evening Under the Stars," which took place this past April at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and raised several thousand dollars for Global Playground's project in Uganda. Thanks in part to her efforts, Global Playground has fully funded its Ugandan project, and now Naovarat hopes to help raise even more money for Global Playground's next project, which will be in a region near and dear to her heart--Southeast Asia.

Naovarat's giving does not end when the dishes are done. Recently, she and her husband donated fifty pounds of school supplies, which two Global Playground board members personally distributed to many thankful children and their teachers in Uganda, Thailand, and Cambodia. "You should have seen the smiles on those kids' faces when we handed them the school supplies that Mrs. Branagan and her husband donated," board member Doug Bunch said. "One teacher even cried when we handed her a box of pencils."

"It feels really really good to be able to give," Naovarat said. For her, it is a dream come true to help others, particularly in her native Thailand and other developing countries. She was brought up to believe that "we should share what we have" and that the material things around us do not last. The selflessness and sincere commitment to education that Naovarat has shown is a true inspiration. A little goes a long way, and she has shown what a difference a little giving can make!

- Emily Lapolice

To book Naovarat Branagan's catering services within the Washington, DC area, please contact Global Playground at 1-800-998-9348. All proceeds will benefit Global Playground's various projects around the globe.

Helping Their Peers in Uganda

Thursday, August 23, 2007 | posted by Global Playground News |
This past spring, three fifteen year-old students at the Shore Country Day School in Beverly, MA responded to a challenging project in their globalization class by adopting Global Playground as their semester-long cause. Their challenge was to find a nonprofit whose cause they identified with and then go to bat for the nonprofit by raising funds and awareness within their school and neighborhoods. With incredible enthusiasm and excitement, the students became such advocates and fundraisers for Global Playground that their globalization teacher, Tung Trinh, knighted them the "Trio of Awesome."

Trinh, who teaches seventh and ninth grade at the Shore School, learned of Global Playground from his friend and Advisory Committee member, Ashley Clevenger. He highlighted Global Playground's mission and project in Uganda in the introduction to a semester-long project entitled "Your World." The Trio of Awesome was intrigued right away with Global Playground and with helping their peers in Uganda. "I think that taking a second to realize that many kids their age around the world don't have access to any type of education really made them want to help. They loved the idea of helping to give other kids a chance to learn and to experience what they have loved: learning in a school," Trinh said.

Upon learning of Global Playground, the Trio of Awesome became passionately involved. They immediately contacted and spoke with members of Global Playground's Board and Advisory Committee to learn more about Global Playground's project in Uganda. The Trio of Awesome then spoke in front of their school's entire student body of 200 students to raise awareness about Global Playground's mission. The boys also raised $350 by selling Global Playground t-shirts in their neighborhoods and to their classmates.

The Trio of Awesome truly serves as an inspiration to their community and so inspired others that Global Playground has received an anonymous donation matching the boys' fundraising efforts. "What you think and what you say is important in making change, but it is those who walk the walk and take action who accomplish change. These three gentlemen talked, and then they walked. I hope that their walk was one that inspires others to take some small steps, make the walk themselves, and help," Trinh said.

-Becca Sacra

Our First Year

Thursday, August 02, 2007 | posted by Doug Bunch |

Just over one year ago, Global Playground was simply a concept, founded by five individuals with full-time occupations. And now, it has blossomed into an organization that has struck a chord in the hearts of hundreds of others like us who share our same passion. We are now comprised of diverse individuals who have ties to academia, banking, education, government, health, law, media, and nonprofits. Though we come from many specialties, we share one common belief: that through education, we can change the lives of children and the lives of generations to come.

To date, nearly 200 donors have given over $40,000 for our projects in developing countries. We have reached our goal of $32,000 to fund the construction of an 8-classroom school for approximately 300 primary students near Kampala, Uganda. An additional $8,000 will be contributed by Ugandan community members themselves in the form of labor. The school will be operated by the local government with the involvement of local community members. We have purchased land for our school, and construction is expected to begin in September. We hope to complete construction by early 2008. To witness this progress firsthand, we intend to make our second trip to Uganda in early 2008. Meanwhile, as the Uganda project continues, we have been busy exploring additional educational projects in Thailand, Cambodia, and other developing countries. In the coming months, we will announce our second project.

We thank you for your donations and support thus far. Each of you who has donated is a stakeholder in everything we do. We understand and appreciate the value of your donation. With no paid staff and all administrative expenses paid by Board members, we are able to see that your donation is applied directly to the project at hand.

We have significant challenges ahead of us. We have only just begun. We may stop briefly to celebrate our first year, but we do so with full knowledge that we have our work cut out for us. Twenty years from now, we hope to have touched not one community, but many around the world, and enabled them to use education as a means of both economic development and cross-cultural understanding.

This is the Global Playground. Thanks for helping us build it.