The members of Cabo Verdeans United are back in Connecticut celebrating the success of their latest trip to Cabo Verde, where they built three playgrounds. The latest effort brings the total number of playgrounds they’ve built on the country’s islands to 13.
The group, based in Connecticut, raised about $30,000 for the latest construction effort, thanks in large part to Edward Esteves, a Glastonbury retiree who endeavored to do 1,000 pull ups to fundraise for the effort.
“I did my 1,000 pull ups, which I committed to. And we also raised $30,000. So it's roughly $10,000 per playscape, each playground that we built,” said Esteves in an interview with NBC CT at a Glastonbury playground.
He posted his daily pull ups online, garnering donations big and small from supporters following his progress. A team of about a dozen people from CVU traveled to the country this spring to build the playscapes. Each volunteer traveled at their own expense, meaning all of the funds raised went to the construction of the playgrounds.
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CVU co-founder Genie Lomba, who was raised in Cabo Verde, says as the playgrounds were coming along, she could see the joy growing in each child who watched.
“Once we start putting it together and they start seeing it, they come back they're excited. They start talking to one another 'oh my God, we’ve got to protect this. We got to do this. We got to do that. I can't wait until I go down there. Slide. Never been in one before.' So, so yeah, that is an awesome experience,” Lomba said.
CVU’s members say this won't be the last of their trips to build playgrounds.
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“We build smiles one island at a time. And as long as we've got breath in our chest, we're going to continue to do that” said Esteves.