On behalf of the International Childhood Enrichment Program (ICEP), I want to thank both Bill Nemitz and the Portland Press Herald for the excellent article on playgrounds for Afghan children (“Providing playgrounds for young Afghans,” June 19).

Additionally, Capt. Paul Bosse and his troops need to be commended for their heroic service, as well as their willingness to provide play opportunities for Afghan children.

There exists a dire need in Afghanistan for children to have access to safe and child-friendly play opportunities.

The 9-year old war has had disastrous consequences for Afghan children. Many have been killed or injured by land mines and artillery, and it is estimated that close to 80 percent of Afghan children exhibit some psychological scarring of war, particularly girls who have suffered under the oppressive Taliban regime.

As well, according to a Save the Children survey, only 19 percent of Afghan mothers and no fathers believe play is useful in promoting learning.

Childhood development experts recognize the importance of play for children. Through play, children gain vital social, emotional and physical skills, contributing to their overall healthy development. As well, play advances children’s well-being through spontaneous feelings of joy and happiness.

During a recent visit to Haiti with other ICEP board members, I witnessed first-hand the value of playgrounds in enriching the lives of Haitian children. They were fully engaged with other schoolchildren of all ages through fun and active play.

While there, we also observed the ongoing need for similar play opportunities for Haitian children, especially orphans. At one orphanage that we visited, there resided 40 children with little or no opportunities for active play. This situation exists throughout the country, especially since the earthquake.

While the situations in Haiti and Afghanistan are vastly different, there is one common denominator: Children in both countries have had no opportunities to experience childhood or “just be a kid.”

David B. Jones, EdD, CTRS
USM associate professor
ICEP board member
Yarmouth

 

U.S. Postal Service goes where others won’t

 

The editorial regarding competition for the U.S. Postal Service is at best naive and at worst a cynical argument for so-called free market economics. The editorial alleges that FedEx and UPS “could certainly pick up mail delivery as well.”

Every day? To every home? In every village and hamlet of Maine, let alone America? At what price? Of course, they would be happy to pick off the lucrative routes in major metropolitan areas, but there is no way they would continue post offices and delivery services in more remote areas of the country. Try Greenville Junction or Calais. And for a mere 46 cents? Never.

Some reshaping of the Postal Service is certainly needed, and has begun, in light of the technological revolution. But one irony is that the most remote areas are also those least well-served by high-speed communication.

Your paper is, of course, in thrall to bulk advertisers, who are trying to keep costs as low as possible. I suspect even they would be appalled by the increases in costs that would ensue if the Postal Service were not available.

You speak of the “modern way — and the American one.” What you actually describe is the driving down of wages and benefits for the workers, and a diminution of services for the marginal, so that wealthy investors can get even richer. The American way at this point is that the rich get richer and the poor pay for it.

The Rev. Donald J. Rudalevige
Cape Elizabeth

 

Former candidate rues assault on gay marriage

 

Last fall’s loss of same-sex marriage was deeply disappointing, and so is the news that equal-marriage opponents are planning a rally in Augusta on Wednesday.

As a lifelong Mainer and 2010 (an unsuccessful Democratic) candidate for governor, I proudly voted against the referendum to repeal Maine’s recognition of same-sex marriage and urged others to do the same.

Recognizing same-sex marriage is about giving Maine’s gay and lesbian couples the same legal rights and protections that all married couples now enjoy — which Article I of the Maine Constitution clearly states they are entitled to.

Groups who oppose same-sex marriage need to appreciate the fact that equal marriage rights will not interfere with their freedom to choose whether or not to perform or recognize a same-sex marriage.

Maine must always uphold civil rights and promote tolerance. Diversity is part of our history and it continues to this day. It must be strengthened and celebrated as an important part of our state’s fabric.

I believe it is time to acknowledge the realities of life in the 21st century and move on to becoming a state where same-sex couples have equal rights under the law, including the right to marry.

Rosa Scarcelli
Portland

 

He’ll just say ‘no’ to Snowe, Collins

 

I notice that Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have begun their TV campaigning.

They mention how they have said no to deficit spending.

They seem to have forgotten how they have also said no to health care reform, no to the public option, no to financial reform, no to corporate Wall Street regulation, no to drug importation, no to the employee free choice act and no to just about everything that this president has tried to accomplish for working people in this country.

Too late, senators, on the deficit spending that our great-grandchildren will inherit. You and your party took care of that when you started those two pesky wars, at about a trillion and a half dollars to date.

the way, who’s paying for your TV ads? Big oil, big insurance, or the drug companies?

Senators, I’ll remember the word no at election time!

Doug Davis
Windham