KuKuk Move in Shtime, Kosovo
Planning and organizing
In 2022, we decided to build a playground again. So we looked for a place where a playground was urgently needed, and then we started to collect donations for the project and to submit applications to collect the money for the materials, the excavator driver, the construction supervisors, and the travel expenses of KuKuk Move.
We collected money by selling cakes during school breaks; we organized a fundraising run; we went directly to people and told them about our project; and finally, we submitted applications, to "Children for a Better World."
The construction of the playground was planned for the Whitsun vacations from May 29 to June 2, 2023. And indeed, we managed to raise enough funds so that, in March 2023, we knew for sure that our project in Kosovo could take place.
Arrival and accommodation
On May 27, 2023, we left Stuttgart-Möhringen with a kosovarian bus company at 6:00 in the morning. The journey took a whole 28 hours until we finally arrived in Shtime.
In Shtime we lived in a training center for educators and teachers, right next to a school. The rooms were like classrooms but with glass doors, so there was hardly any privacy for us from the KuKuk Move group, but that didn't bother us because we all knew each other for a long time and always preferred to be together as a big group anyway. More exciting was that there were actually no showers either, but there were simply shower heads with a hose attached to the sink, and since there were water drains in the tile floor, you could still stand in the makeshift bathrooms and take a shower.
Still, on Sunday evening after our arrival, we walked to the kindergarten, where we built for the next five days. For the first time, we took a look at the area with our own eyes, talked to the director of the kindergarten, who had also organized the accommodation for us, and asked her which installations made sense and what they wanted for the kindergarten. With these impressions, the first evening came to an end, and we went to sleep with the first plans in our heads to be fit to stand on the construction site at 8:00 a.m. the next day.
Building and experiencing
On Monday, the 29. 05. It went off in the morning at 8 o'clock on the building site. First, smaller groups of four to six people were formed who wanted to work together to build a playground structure. Then, in the next step, creative drawings were made within the groups of what the play element could look like.
When everyone had made their plan, the large group looked at the site to see where each structure should be located and how it would make the most sense as a whole.
Once the big plan was in place, all the elements on the site were marked on the ground, so the excavator could dig the holes for the standing beams. Now that the first holes were ready, we placed the standing beams directly into them and stabilized them with roof battens, then filled the holes with concrete, which was allowed to harden until the following day.
From the second day on, the fixed beams were built. All in all, a gigantic playground was created, consisting of a hut with a sandbox, on the enclosure of which a comfortable seating area invited people to relax. Next to it was a small outdoor classroom with seating at various heights, which also formed the entrance to the first climbing structure that led to the first large tower. The tower had a kiosk in the basement with a counter and a sign that read "kiosk in Albanian." From the upper floor of the tower, another climbing structure with hand ropes and a vertically attached climbing net led to a bridge that consisted of floating cross-beams suspended horizontally from ropes. The tower that followed was slightly smaller than the first, featured a sort of spiral staircase within itself, and had windows with colorful plexiglass panes to look out of.
Then, on the side of the second tower, with some distance, there was another big nest swing where several children could sit at the same time.
All of these climbing and swing elements had a 50 cm deep excavation underneath them, with sand filled in at the very end as fall protection, as we had some elements where you could climb over a meter in height.
During the construction period, we were repeatedly invited by our hosts, the director of the kindergarten, to eat with her. Thereby, we got to know the culinary cuisine of Shtime. On one of the evenings, they showed us traditional dances, and our whole group danced their rounds around the table, and in return, we sang them all together, hits like "Über den Wolken" by Reinhard Mey.
We were always asked on the street in the part of town where we also lived if we were this group that was building the playground. Word had spread in the Shtime district that the kindergarten was getting a playground and that we had traveled from Germany to do it. So we met young people our age who went to school next to our accommodations. Sometimes they came over in the evening, brought us soft drinks and sweets, and then we played basketball together.
On the construction site, we learned new hand movements every day, although this time we were already much more practiced, since most of us had already built a playground in Romania last year. But you never stop learning, and every construction brings its own difficulties and new ideas.
On Friday, June 2, 2023, the playground was finished. As with our last project, no one could believe beforehand that we would really be able to build all the wood in five days and thus create a finished playground. But in fact, it was successful again, and the opening ceremony could take place as planned. The deputy mayor even came by and gave a speech, and everyone who had been involved in the construction received a certificate for their extraordinary commitment. Then there was plenty to eat, photos were taken, and in the evening there was again plenty to eat. In the evening, we packed all our things again because we had already started the return journey the next morning.