Ethiopia -- The Community Project

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May 12th, 2015, Debre Birhan, Ethiopia

Local labor and dedicated volunteers reconstruct the refurbished playground.

May 14th, 2015 OPENING DAY

Shayna poses with a sign dedicating the playground. I am humbled by project coordinator Jon Lewis' touching dedication.

From the field...

"You should hear the sound of laughter and squeals that rings out across the fields hour after hour. There has never been anything like this here before. And it will be from now on, more and more children coming as they hear about it." - Angelique Kidd-Smith, Project Coordinator, on Opening Day

"I was very happy when I looked down the hill to the school site that my eyes are surprised by the blue huge playground equipment. It was amazing to look [at the] poor children playing there coming from the village. They were restless to play here and there, running around, touching every corner of the playground equipment and trying to improve there skill in some of play types. I hope the children were dreaming all the night about there play ground." - Prof. Mekdim Hailu, Project Manager and Head of Mechanical Engineering Dept. at Debre Birhan Polytechnic College of Playground

From me...

Hearing these reports from those on site has overjoyed and overwhelmed me. I am incredibly grateful for the individuals who worked from sunrise to sunset during the installation of the children's playgrounds. As well as those who continue to work dilligently prepping the basketball court, volleyball court and soccer field. 

As always, I am grateful to YOU for supporting us in this adventure. Our fundraising efforts continue as the sports sites require labor, cement and seed for the grass on the field. Given how far we've come, I'm confident we can raise the remainder (at this time just a little under $4000!)

Thank you for your support. With love and respect, Tara

It has begun....

We've broken ground! As of this week, a dedicated group of volunteers began preparing the site for our playground.

The children of Debre Birhan eagerly anticipate their new play center. Just look at how big Shayna has gotten!



It's a strange feeling. To see yourself in a photo in the hands of a little girl half a world away. I keep the same photo of Shayna and I in my wallet -- I don't look at it every day, but I like knowing it's there. It's comforting to have her near me, reminding me of why I undertook this project in the first place. As I'm sure many of you have guessed, this playground is as much for me as it is for the children of Debre Birhan.  

I have a good life. A life I am incredibly grateful for. And this playground has allowed me to pay it forward in a big way. Some of you reading this right now have never actually met me. Maybe you only know my mom, or my dad, or saw a link on Twitter and wanted to know what this was all about. Well, truthfully, this is all about one little girl from San Dimas, California, telling another little girl from Debre Birhan, Ethiopia, that she's got her back. That she's important and she's loved. That hundreds of people she's never met before have come together to build her a playground simply because she's a kid, and she deserves it. 

So, thank you guys for having my back. And supporting my dream. It's comforting to know you're out there, and that together, we are achieving something awesome. 

With deepest gratitude,




My story...

In the summer of 2013, while on hiatus from The Big Bang Theory, I had the privilege of traveling to Ethiopia to build homes in the community of Debre Birhan. The days of intense physical labor afforded their share of challenges as well as rewards. One of the greatest rewards was the opportunity to meet Shayna. 

Shayna is a little girl with a killer smile. She loves bubbles and games of "guess which hand the rock is in." Dolls, or bicycles, or Legos aren't things that exist in Shayna's world -- but that hasn't dampened her spirit or desire to play. After I left Ethiopia, Shayna and the other children of Debre Birhan were never far from my heart, and I knew my work for them was far from over. That's how the Playground Project was born.  

The vision...

To build a recreation and play center for children ages K-8; complete with soccer field, track, basketball court, volleyball court, & small and large children’s playgrounds.  This play area will be adjacent to newly constructed classrooms that will educate over one thousand school children daily.

A project of this size in the U.S. would normally cost between $250,000-$300,000. Utilizing completely refurbished equipment, volunteer labor, and local craftsmen, we can complete our play center for only $58,000! This budget covers the cost to refurbish the playground equipment, shipping and customs fees, and the installation materials for the soccer field and athletic courts.

All donations are tax deductible through Kids Around the World which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Confirmation receipts will be e-mailed. 

For more information about KATW, please go to their website at











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