"What one has not experienced, one will never understand in print." --Isadora Duncan 1877-1927
April 9, 2007 The American School of the Hague and Operation Playground team up! See Photos Here...
Tsunami survivor Arlette Stuipand her students at The American School of the Hague (ASH) of The Netherlands have teamed up with OP to build a playground in Bang Niang, Thailand. This incredible joint-venture began when Arlette Stuip, a teacher at ASH met OP Director, John Moretti, during the 1-Year Tsunami Memorial in Khao Lak, Thailand. Arlette's ongoing personal support in the recovery of Thailand's children over the last two years led to a remarkable fundraising effort by herself and her students.
She encouraged her students to raise money to build a playground at the Bang Niang School (situated 1km north of Khao Lak) where much of the school was damaged by the destructive wave. The students conducted many activities, including bake sales and door-to-door donation requests, to raise over $3,000 USD!!
Today, the children of Bang Niang School have a new play structure that will last for many years to come!
Also 'thanks' go to volunteers Michael McArdle of Yonkers, NY, and Pornnatcha "Roong" Boonchai of Bang Niang; Sahkorn Sahtahn and his family who painstakenly welded the entire structure; Jensen Swing Products of Santee, California for their kind donation of swing seats; and most importantly to the students of ASH who made this entire project possible. Our heartfelt "Thank You" to you all !!
May 1, 2006 Operation Playground goes to Africa
Operation Playground has taken the giant leap to the continent of Africa to support the children in Wangige, Kenya. The Caroline Wambui Mungai Children's Home, an orphanage outside Nairobi, was chosen to receive the playground with the logistical assistance of Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) and funded by Operation Playground. The orphans are victims of the continuing epedemic of HIV/AIDS in Africa, parental abandonment and extreme poverty. We were pleased to have had the opportunity to extend our reach to another country and we hope to expand our playground projects to other points of the world in the coming years. Please help support our efforts to bring smiles to the children in less fortunate living environments. 100% of your donation goes towards the playground equipment and nothing else. All travel and expenses are paid for by the individual volunteers. Thank you for your support and enjoy the photos below!
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We would also like to extend our heartfelt 'thanks' to the following individuals:
January 12, 2006 Ban Nok Na school playground completed!
Operation Playground along with Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) has completed the construction of the playground on the remote island of Ko Kho Khao. The children of the Ban Nok Na school, off the coastal fishing village of Ban Nam Khem, Thailand received this wonderful gift just before Christmas and just days before the anniversary of the recent tsunami that struck their island nearly one year ago.
I want to personally thank all the generous people that made donations and believed in me that this could become a reality. My heartfelt thanks goes out to Steven Ellis and Nancy Rivard of Airline Ambassadors and the many volunteers that helped make this project a reality. I could have not done this without your love and support!
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Watch Video of Ban Nok Na School playground construction (2:45Min 4.88MB).
December 3, 2005 Ban Nok Na school project begins!
Operation Playground along with Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) delivered the first load of concrete to the Ban Nok Na school in Thailand. Ban Nok Na is a small village on the extreme north end of Ko Kho Khao, an island just off the fishing coast of Ban Nam Khem. The inhabitants of this remote island were devastated by the tsunami and many that survived are reluctant to return to the island for fear of another tsunami.
For OP and AAI, the day marked the beginning of renewal for the children of Ban Nok Na. When our truck arrived with the first load of cement mix, the children were excited to see us and greeted us with their beautiful smiles. Volunteers began unloading the truck while the children insisted they help us (see photo). Keep in mind that this is a very special event for them and they are equally as excited to have the playground constructed as we are. Even their teacher was there to help push the wheelbarrow!
We also have employed four local laborers; two Thais and two Burmese immigrants, to assist us in the effort. We feel its important to involve the local community as it will bond us together in an effort that is exciting for all of us.
Thank you to all those that have made contributions to make this project a reality!
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August 1, 2005 (upated October 27, 2005) Operation Playground teams with Airline Ambassadors
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Operation Playground has partnered with Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) to support them in their missionto reconstruct or build new playgrounds in the tsunami-torn provinces of Phuket and Phang Nga. John Moretti will travel with a team of approximately 25 people dedicated to helping the children. Funded by AAI, the team will survey various playground locations and hopefully construct a temporary play system, later to be upgraded to a more permanent structure as the surrounding communities continue to rebuild.
The roll of Operation Playground is to provide our knowledge of playgrounds and their construction in addition to taking on the organizational aspects of recruiting laborers, procuring supplies and overseeing the project through to its completion.
On November 1, 2005, John Moretti of OP will return to the same region to fulfill the commitment of rebuilding playgrounds utilizing the donations made to OP by its sponsors and contributors.
This opportunity to join forces with AAI has enabled us to further our mission while providing aid to AAI and thier personal commitments. The partnership is a win-win for all involved, especially for the children of Thailand.
We welcome Steven Ellis, AAI Project Leader and those in the group that have made sacrifices to accomplish such a wonderful endeavor! Many thanks to all!
May 23, 2005 Operation Playground makes headlines in newspaper
ThePalo Alto Daily News, a local newspaper that serves Palo Alto, Stanford, Atherton, and other nearby commuities, printed a story on Operation Playground. The frontpage headlines read: "Local Provides Place to Play: Tsunami inspires largesse". John Moretti was approached by Masha Rumer, a Daily News staff writer, after receiving an email with hopes of getting exposure to the playground project. You can read the entire story here, or can view the actual newspaper article.
May 4, 2005 Operation Playground website goes online
Operation Playground has completed the development of a dedicated website to raise funds to build a playground in tsunami-torn Thailand. The original site was being hosted by Moretti Photography of Palo Alto, CA.
Still under frequent updates and construction, you may find that some of the links may have not been completed. We hope that this site will be completely updated by May 15, 2005. The funding for this website was donated by John B Moretti and the ongoing maintenance and updates are being performed by John as well. If you would like to help with a small donation, please click on the donation link to the left of this story.
Thank you for your visit and welcome to our cause!
May 2, 2005 InSync Mircoproducts owner to return to Thailand
Woody Injarusorn of El Monte, CA and owner of InSync Microproducts will hopefully be returning to Phang Nga, Thailand in November, 2005. Mr Injarusorn was an integral and important part of the recovery efforts in Khao Lak after the tsunami. Thai-born and skilled in the Thai language, he was able to provide valuable interpretation for foreign relief volunteers immediately following the devastation, bridging the language barrier and expediting progress during key projects as rebuilding community homes lost in the tsunami.
Labor of Love
May 1, 2005
Who exactly is the founder of this project?
An avid photographer for more than 25 years, John Moretti realized early in his photography career that it was the faces of culture he loves most. John has traveled extensively in pursuit of this passion, capturing a wide palette of faces and places. Having ventured into much of western and eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and a swath of the Americas, he has experienced and photographed some of the most inspiring places on earth.
On a personal level, John is active in various humanitarian efforts ranging from the relief efforts in Southeast Asia and Thailand in particular following the tsunami in December, 2004. Currently he is spearheading this fundraiser for the rebuilding of children's playgrounds destroyed during the tsunami. He is also a supporter of the Airline Ambassadors, a non-profit organization affiliated with the United Nations and recognized by the US Congress. It is a network of airline employees and others who volunteer as "Ambassadors of Goodwill" in their home communities and abroad.
Twelve years as a paid firefighter for the US Govt, John fought wildland forest fires in over eight US states during of which six years he was a volunteer firefighter with North Chico (CA) Company 42 serving as a Heavy Rescue Technician and Emergency Medical Tech (EMT) before moving to Palo Alto, CA. You can visit his personal website and view his extensive gallery of photos, many of which are from the recent visit to the tsunami-torn areas of Thailand. As of April 15, 2005, he as added photos of his recent photo trip to Bolivia and Peru.