Thursday, January 19, 2012
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
As we pulled into Vilo, we didn’t know what to expect...Scott and I had just come from an early morning meeting in Bogoro with a group of people who have physical disabilities with whom we talked about adapting sports to their specific needs. We were both excited and anxious as we had plans to participate in several activities in Vilo that day, such as starting the work of building a soccer field, visiting the primary school and facilitating our first peace education seminar for our committee.
After having surveyed the field during a previous visit to Vilo, Scott informed the rest of the Ituri Team of the enormity of building this field. First, he said, we need to clear the field of all tree stumps, boulders/rocks and various different types of plants, grass and weeds that are currently on the field. Then we will need to flatten the field, which has a change in elevation of approximately 15 feet from it’s lowest to it’s highest points, carefully building up retention walls wherever dirt has been displaced. We were left wondering whether this was a realistic goal.
With this in mind, we got out of the truck and started walking to the field where we were hoping to see a large number of people. Roger had informed us that the village chief had gathered everyone together earlier that week to organize a community workday on the field. As we walked out onto the field we were amazed by the sight of dozens of men working away in the heat of the day, breaking down the massive boulders that seemed to grow in size as the dirt around them was dug-up. Soon after, groups of boys and young men were organized to start digging out the tree stumps that lay deep in the ground. Each age group was responsible for digging out its own tree stump, which resulted in a healthy competition between groups to see who would get their tree stump out first. Scott and I began to think that with this amount of community support perhaps building this field is not only a possibility but also the right thing to do.
Meanwhile, Selina made her way down to the primary school where she paid visits to no less than ten different classrooms. Students filed out of their classrooms for recess and Selina took the opportunity to make some new friends. After recess, Selina walked into the classrooms and students greeted her in unison. She was able to spend time observing school lessons, learning a bit of French grammar and practicing her Swahili in the packed classrooms holding anywhere from 30 to 50 children in each room.
As school was coming to a close, some members of the local soccer team approached Scott and me to see if we wanted to participate in what we understood to be a pick-up soccer game. Of course Scott and I said yes and so we walked down to the school courtyard, which also functions as the community’s soccer field. Children began to assemble around the three of us as more and more community members came down to the soccer field. Scott and I were ushered off into separate classrooms where our respective teams were meeting. Scott and I jogged out onto a very hilly, dusty, hard and rocky soccer field with our respective teams and began warming up in the sweltering midday heat of Congo. As we looked around us we realized that we were surrounded by hundreds of fans in what appeared to be the entire community of Vilo.
The match got underway and we quickly realized how different this game was from the game we grew up playing. Due to the rough conditions of the field we noticed how the nature of the game seemed to change as players preferred to keep the ball in the air rather than play it on the ground and deal with the unpredictable surface of the field. The soccer game was an amazing event for us as it clearly showed the importance of sport for community and how it can be used as a powerful tool to bring people together.
As the match came to a close Selina was busy preparing for our first peace education seminar. During her preparations, as usual, Selina drew the attention of a number of children. Selina decided that she was going to seize the opportunity in what became an impromptu peace education lesson by drawing smiley faces on sticky notes and asking the children what it was. “Nini ni?” Selina asked in Swahili, which means, “What is it?” She then responded to her own question by saying, “Cheka” and “Furahi”, which mean “laugh” and “happy.” Selina continued this activity with the children as she waited for people to come into the meeting. We noticed that when the children left the room they posted these smiley faces around the community, sharing their smiles with their friends and neighbors and putting a few smiles on our own faces.
Our first peace education seminar went extremely well as committee members interacted with topics ranging from the difference between negative and positive conflict to what the idea of peace means to us on a personal level. We noticed that our committee members were really engaging with this material and that some who hadn’t spoken in previous meetings were now openly sharing their thoughts. This truly was a day to remember and it is what we have been working towards since our arrival in Congo. We are hopeful that we will have many more days like it in the coming months and that our work in the Ituri Region is marked by these experiences.
Friday, October 28, 2011
|Stephen sitting down with kids from Bogoro|
Friday, October 7, 2011
VISIT OUR WEBSITE: www.sports4hope.org
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Sports4HOPE has set their departure date; September 22nd. Flights booked, visa acquired, team prepared. On this day three of the Sports4HOPE team members will head out to the Democratic Republic of Congo where we will put into action the program we have been working toward for the past 3 years. We will be setting up soccer leagues and running peace education programs in 3 small villages outside of Bunia, a city on the eastern border of DRC.
Please check back periodically. When we are on the ground in Congo we will be trying to update our blog at least once a week.
Thank you all for your support.
-Posted by Scott
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Hey everyone! Now that summer has come to an end, I wanted to share a few words about Sports4HOPE’s first fund-raising event which occurred this July in my home state of Tennessee...
With the help of the Keystone Group from the Boys and Girls Club (Of Murfreesboro, TN), I was able to run the soccer portion of a sport fund-raising clinic for kids ranging from 7-14 years of age. The turnout was fantastic and allowed us to do various drills and mini games which culminated in a full scrimmage after an awesome lunch break that was sponsored in part by Miss Tennessee.
By collecting donations in exchange for a day of sports training, the club was able to raise money that will help kids in DR Congo benefit from the same type of leagues that kids in the US experience. We also taught the youths about Sports4HOPE's mission. I explained that while kids here are able to learn sportsmanship, teamwork, develop respect for other players and coaches through sport, kids in less developed or conflict affected countries don't always have these opportunities. The kids agreed that all people, young and old, here or abroad, should have access to sports - which is something we take for granted.
At a grassroots level, the training session was similar to what we anticipate the beginning stages of our work in the Congolese villages will look like. However, the training for the boys and girls of Murfreesboro was just for one day, whereas training and coaching the kids in the Congo will be longterm. In the end, it's all about kids coming together for a common purpose - to learn the value of relationships and teamwork through sport, and thus helping peace move forward...
Stay tuned for more to come and make sure to join our Facebook fan page!
Saturday, February 6, 2010
....Happy New Year from all of us on the Sports4HOPE team. We hope that 2010 is off to anexcellent start!
We just wanted to update you on everything that transpired in 2009 as well as ﬁll you in on what is on the horizon for us this coming year.
2009 was deﬁnitely a deﬁning year for our organization. What started out as an idea in the head of the Reynard brothers has turned into a full-ﬂedged non-proﬁt organization (complete with 501(c)(3) approval!) with a clear mission and vision, a functioning board of directors, a great website, and a partner organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Needless to say, we are very pleased with what we were able to accomplish this past year, and we are very thankful for all the support and encouragement that you, our friends and family, have provided.
We expect 2010 to be no less pivotal and exciting as we aim to begin our pilot project over the course of the year. We have our work cut out for us, but we are already gearing up for the ride. Members of our team are participating in opportunities that are really helping us build our organizational capacity and will ensure that Sports4HOPE will be as strong and effective as possible. Team member activities include working in program services for a disabled sports organization, completing degrees in International Peace and Conﬂict Resolution as well as International Relations and Diplomacy, relocating to France for project and language training, and working as a coach for training and development with a professional soccer team! Our hope is to have a team member actually living on location in DRC sometime this year to begin the tangible work of Sports4HOPE. We’d love to report by the end of the year that kids in the villages of Kagaba, Vilo, and Bogoro are playing sports and laying the groundwork for peace!
Many, many thanks for your continued interest, guidance, questions, and support. We truly could not do it without you. Be sure to look out for more updates as we journey through the year. In the mean time, check out our website (www.sports4hope.org), shoot us an email, and keep us in your thoughts!
The Sports4HOPE Team