Giving refugees from South Sudan a memorable week of soccer and healing, I'm Combining my two passions of soccer and refugees on the ground in Bidibidi refugee camp in Uganda, the largest camp in the world.
One has been to help children who are poor and oppressed. Growing up, I have participated in helping refugees ever since I was a baby. It has been such a big part of our family’s life, that I can’t imagine us not doing this.
My second focus has been sports, in my case, soccer. (Somewhere in between this comes school, but that is not a main theme of this letter.) I am currently playing on one of Norway’s elite soccer teams for women. I love the sport and, just like I can’t imagine my life without refugees in it, I also cannot imagine life without soccer. I am a sophomore at a high school in Norway that is allowing for practice during my school days, in agreement with the Norwegian Olympic Committee.
Some years ago my mom and I went to a village in Myanmar and it became clear to me that I could actually use my soccer skills to help the children there. For days at end the village children and I practiced soccer together. At the end of the stay they invited me to come and live with them. I realized during that time that sports, in this case, soccer, has an amazing effect on kids who are experiencing trauma, poverty and oppression. First off, they are able to forget what is difficult while they play. For a short while their focus is on the game and everything else is secondary. I also noticed the joy they had in mastering some of the skills I taught them. For so many, life has been a series of defeats. On the soccer field they could learn that they could be winners. It also brought the kids together in a way that surprised me. I will never forget the boy who had a pair of soccer cleats, and his friend who played barefoot. Some minutes into the game, I noticed how the boy with the cleats had taken one shoe off and given it to his friend. They now played with one shoe each.
This winter I have been given an amazing opportunity. Glen Totten, the leader of Parakelites ministry, has asked me to go to Uganda to set up a soccer camp for South-Sudanese refugee children. Glen works with them doing trauma care, and he has seen the need they have for organized activities such as soccer camps. I have been given permission to go by my team coach, and the trip will be during our school’s winter break. My mom and cousin will be traveling with me. My mom will be working with the Sudanese women while my cousin will be my side-kick and assistant.
So here is the cruncher: As a poor high school student I don’t have the funds to pay for my ticket or expenses. I need to raise approximately 3000 USD for the tickets, supplies, and accommodations. I wonder if you would consider helping me with this? I think it will be life-changing for the kids who will attend the camp, and for me as well. If you would like to help me with this, I would be so grateful. I promise to send lots of photos and stories.
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