Friends since grade nine when they attended the former Oceanview Junior High School in Powell River, Isla Ferrier and Joy Daniel met through soccer and choir. Years later, the pair found themselves in the Philippines building a playground in Saysain, Bagac, a village in the province of Bataan.
“Many kids have never seen a playground,” said Daniel. “Many others don’t have running water in their homes. They survive because they are a tight community that looks after one another.”
Daniel’s parents, Rudy and Tita Castro, are originally from Saysain, Bagac. After moving to Powell River, they owned Airport Market for 17 years.
Daniel’s mother was the first person to ever leave the village and move to another country. She moved to Canada and became a nurse in High Prairie, Alberta. Over the years the couple, who still live in Powell River, have sponsored about 100 people to come to Canada.
While growing up, Daniel said she would return to Saysain, Bagac with her parents. It was on one of those trips, when she was 16, that she was first inspired to give back to the kids and the village one day, she said.
“I’ve adopted the philosophy: to those who have been given much, much is expected,” said Daniel.
Her lifelong friend Ferrier jumped at the chance to join her in what they call the Playground of Possibility Project.
“When Joy shared her dream of doing the playground, we immediately wanted to help,” said Ferrier. “We travel a lot as a family and felt this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share with our children what it means to give back to those less fortunate.”
Planning for the playground started in September 2015. Now finished, it was officially handed over to the school on January 4.
“The kids who live in the village who came to see what was going on were jumping up and down,” said Ferrier. “There are 10 schools in the school district and this is the first one to have a playground.”
Daniel said their hope is that this playground inspires the children in Saysain, Bagac to have big dreams and know that everyone can accomplish them.
“For me, the playground represents a global community, a committed vision and the courage to share our dreams with other people,” she said.
Daniel and Ferrier said growing up in Powell River was inspirational in their lives and gave them a sense of community.
“I am extremely proud to be from such a supportive, family-orientated community like Powell River,” said Ferrier. “I feel so fortunate to still be really close with some of the friends I went to high school with. We all seem to be very likeminded in how we are raising our families.”