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November 4, 1993

We Have Slid on a Little Slide
By T. Kuzina
Translated by Ron Pope

Through the efforts of Ron Pope, an Illinois university professor and president of the firm Serendipity ("fortuitous good fortune"), the Karl Lubknekht Children's Home in Vladimir now has some magnificent play equipment.

The first major project of the firm Serendipity was the construction in Vladimir of an American home. Here on this past 4th of July, during the celebration of U.S. Independence Day, Ron Pope announced his current plans. These included the building of a small hotel and providing equipment for some children's playgrounds.... I remember Ron explaining his intentions in the following terms: "Not everyone can participate in the activities of the American Home. But I want large numbers of people to benefit from our projects." There followed a discussion of the playgrounds during which the professor noted the proposed time frame for their construction: September-October.

I do not presume to claim that Ron either announces a deadline for the completion of a project and then spares no effort to keep his word, or else prepares everything in advance and only then announces the project, but the fact is that to date there have been no exceptions to his living up to his promises.

The container with the two sets of equipment for the children's playgrounds arrived at the American Home at the beginning of October. The equipment cost about $20,000 and was provided by one American firm [sic.--in fact, two] which Ron Pope had persuaded to participate in this act of kindness. The city Department of Education decided to have the equipment set up at the Karl Lubknekht Children's Home [orphanage] and the boarding school for deaf children. Both facilities care for children up to seven years of age.

The assembly of the playground at the K. Lubknekht Children's Home was completed in a few days. Strictly speaking, this is not the type of playground we are used to--with [carved wooden] mushrooms, sand boxes, etc. Instead, it is an unusual configuration of slides and other things in bright red and yellow colors--in contrast to typical Russian playground equipment which is predominately grey.

This original and colorful play equipment could not have arrived at the orphanage at a better time for the kids, since they care for children there with delayed physical development. But the playground is also attracting the attention of all the surrounding public, and not only young children and teenagers, but even those old enough to vote, that is, those older than eighteen. As a result, the staff at the orphanage is worried about the security of the equipment. It is true that the builders who assembled it, Duane Lester and Andrei Koretski, reassured them somewhat with the explanation that without the assembly instructions it is impossible to disassemble the equipment.

This is also true for setting up the equipment. For precisely this reason the assembly of the play equipment at the boarding school for the deaf has been delayed. The instructions for the second complex were some how lost along the way, and they are now waiting to receive them by fax from the U.S. The Director of the boarding school, A. F. Antonova, has chosen as the site for the equipment a spot directly in front of the main entrance to the school. This will make it easier to protect it. Here we must note that the staff at the boarding school already has some experience with providing security for their property--"thanks" to the school's neighbors in [grammar] School No. 18 and in nearby dormitories.

By the way....
Two more children from the Karl Lubknekht Children's Home have been adopted, this time in France. They are a 4 and 6 year old brother and sister. Before this, three children had left for the U.S. and a fourth for Italy. Remember that this orphanage has children with retarded physical development. Currently no one wants to adopt such children here [in Russia].

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