Thanks to donations from dozens of people who knew Scott, Barbara, Zoe and Noah (and even some who didn't), a playground in memory of the family has been set up in Maputo. Dedicated in a festive ceremony on March 12 (the day Noah would have turned three), the play area is on university property in front of faculty housing where Scott, Barbara and Zoe once lived. It is located on a residential street and open to the public.
In the week preceding the dedication, the ground had been cleared and levelled, truckloads of white sand were brought in and raked smooth, grass runners were planted in one section, bushes, roses and bougainvillaea were planted around the edges of the plot, a low bamboo fence was pieced together, and a brass memorial plaque on a cement base was set into a corner of the space, with bright yellow and orange marigolds forming a semi-circle around it. The play structure, with a tower from which to peer through a scope, a sand box, slide, monkey bars, two saddle swings and a baby swing, a rocking-bench swing and climbing ropes, was erected over the course of a couple of rain-drenched days. The whole process was finished, to everyone's great relief, just in the nick of time.
The dedication ceremony took place on a Sunday afternoon, which was gloriously sunny after days of heavy rains. It was attended by nearly a hundred friends, colleagues and neighbors, including former employees Teresa and Ana and their families. Bunting and balloons added to the festivities, and children cavorted enthusiastically on the play structure. A few short speeches were given, barely audible over children's squeals and laughter: a welcome from Andrea Stoutland on behalf of the organizing committee in Maputo; remembrances from dear friend Sandy Patterson, who returned to Maputo from Nigeria for the occasion; tributes from USAID representative Sid Bliss and land-tenure specialist Rachel Waterhouse. Sandy unveiled the plaque, and a frangipani tree, which produces fragrant yellow-rimmed white flowers, was planted behind it. Amanda Fiske-Chanslor cut the ribbon. Bridget de Gouveia had compiled a book with e-mail greetings, poems and tributes from friends from around the globe; it was passed around, and guests were invited to add their words. Refreshments were served, including the birthday cake Sandy baked for Noah, with characters from his favorite book "Barnyard Dance". The children sang Happy Birthday to Noah. Marielle Rowan videotaped the festivities, a copy of which has been sent to Scott and Barbara's families.
The generous donations sent to the committee meant that the equipment, plaque, sand, plants and installation work have been paid in full. The small firm which did the installation charged a nominal fee and has offered free maintenance for a month, after which it is hoped that the university, with help from interested supporters, will continue to see that the playground is kept in good shape. Any future donations will go to making improvements on the property, possibly including additional equipment, benches for sitting, a better wall on the street side, and shade plants and lighting.
If you would like to contribute to the playground, please contact Amanda Fiske-Chanslor at email@example.com or Andrea Stoutland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
--Written by Amanda Fiske-Chanslor amd Andrea Stoutland