Something from nothing: the Matapalo park build
Here at CREAR our busy summer of receiving volunteer groups keeps rolling on. Two more Travel for Teens groups touched down in Samara the weekend of July 15th with a full itinerary ahead of them. Community leaders of the Matapalo neighborhood had designated a park space for children and families to come enjoy. Unfortunately, there were not enough resources to turn this plot of land into a proper public park. Travel for Teens “Adventure and Service 2” and “Hola Costa Rica” groups excitedly took to work on a Friday morning, paying no mind to the intense sun and thick humidity.
The plot of land designated to be Parque Matapalo sits adjacent to an estuary which drains into Samara bay. Semi-domesticated horses roam the area and the community was concerned about the horses destroying the park so the group’s first task was to construct a solid fence to keep them out. While one crew worked digging holes to bury the posts, other teens and community members collected large pieces of driftwood from the beach to serve as the framework for the fence. Community member Gerardo took a machete to cut fresh bamboo and teams of 3 carried them to the worksite where they would be made into rails for the fence. Meanwhile, other volunteers took up gloves and rakes to clear the area of natural debris and other plastic trash.
CREAR collected a donation of old tires from the local mechanic shop to create a play area for the children. One group began to dig a trench where the tires would be half buried for children to run, jump, and play on. Our shovel team began to re-fill the holes with dirt to make sure the fence posts were solidly in the ground. The posts were set and the play area was under construction as the first day started to wrap up.
We started work on day two despite some ominous rain clouds. The groups were divided into smaller teams and tasked with different jobs. While one team hung the bamboo rails between the fence posts, another group began to dig holes to install benches where parents can sit and relax while the children play. The fence had been completed and construction on the play area had finished up, it was time to start painting. Painting the wooden elements of this park helps to protect them from the rain and humidity as well as adding a nice splash of color to the kid’s play area. As the different elements came together, the plot of land really started becoming a real park. Volunteers with an artistic eye began to create signs encouraging people to play nicely and keep the park clean.
Day three of the park project was focused on beautification. The fence, the benches, the play area were all in place and now it was time to make them look pretty. The beauty of a CREAR park project is that there is work for everyone. If you are more interested in physical labor we invite you to come help us build fences and benches. If you consider yourself a more artistically inclined person we’d love to have you come help paint these parks and give them life through colorful designs. Again we divided the groups into base painters and detail artists. The base painters took wide brushes and painted base coats onto the different park elements. Meanwhile the detail artists took their fine brushes to the benches, tires, and tables to add unique designs, giving the space character. Our two diligent volunteer groups were so helpful at the Matapalo park. The kids worked hard for three days to create a wonderful park using very few resources. Work on day three wrapped up earlier than anticipated and the group celebrated with some well earned time on the beach.
We are very grateful to our Travel for Teens volunteers and for the community members of Matapalo who worked together to help make this project happen. Gerardo was able to get lumber donated to build benches and paint signs. Sandra and other community members were able to help us get electricity at the site so Jose could use an electric saw to cut wood for the benches. This park build was a significant undertaking and we would not have been able to do it without the help of the community, our partnership with Travel for Teens or the support of our generous donors. Thank you for helping make the Matapalo Park a reality!
If you want to contribute to more projects like these please consider making a donation here.
By Lucas C. Mozingo