November 4, 1993
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
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].