Mary has been to visit our football teams, under the direction of Coach Lameck. Check out her photos and info about the football programme :)
Olioyta dear family and friends:
Today I would like to share with you some photos and stories about the soccer program that is offered to 'disadvantaged children' in the village of Bbunga (a suburb of Kampala). Before I begin, however, I feel the need to explain my use of the word 'poverty/disadvantaged'. I am very sensitive when using these words because I was severely chastised some years ago describing a family living in what we would consider poverty. My first update this week to you described Aggie as living in poverty...and before sending to you I asked her to read the update and tell me if this description is offensive. This is what she said to me..."I learned from a teacher many years ago that if you want to improve your life, you must accept the situation you are in, whether it is good or bad. That is how you can overcome and improve. This word does not offend those of us who are striving to better the lives of our children". I greatly value these women who support each other and seek solutions to improve the lives of their children....there is no room for pity in our work.
I would like to talk about Coach Lameck, whom I met two years ago where he was working with the children in the Bbunga community (many of them Kids First children). At that time there were 25 children in our program and they met every Saturday afternoon. They had no equipment, no nets, no shoes and only one soccer ball. I returned to Leland to share these stories with Judy Yoder's class whom had been raising money for me since they were 7th graders (now soon to be seniors!). Immediately these Leland Comets took this soccer program to heart and began raising money. The soccer programme is also sponsored by Cambridge Foot Clinic in New Zealand.
With the help of these two branches of sponsorship, the program has increased from 25 to 84 (which includes two girls) with three registered teams, and are now winning tournaments! In June 54 of the boys had the opportunity to attend a soccer camp away from home for two nights and returned with a treasured trophy....one that is taken with them everywhere and held by the boys at all times. Several sponsored Kids First boys play on these teams including Kenneth, Billington, Regan, and Moses. Kenneth recently won most valuable player and an educational academy is paying for his eduction.
From Sarah: We are so blessed to have had so many fantastic sponsors for our soccer programme. However, we do need to start having a focus on self sufficiency, so that our football programme does not need to depend on sponsors. We have had many ideas already as a group, and would welcome any from our sponsors and blog readers!
I am adding one more photo of shoes .... or I should say "lack of". Two years ago the youth in Leland sent Lameck money to purchase equipment, soccer balls, uniforms and shoes. Now they have 84 children participating and everyone needs soccer shoes! The ground on which they play is uneven and rocky and shoes wear out fast. We will be doing some shopping before tournaments which are scheduled to begin next week.
These children have been blessed under the guidance of Lameck. He has a compassionate heart and his interest goes far beyond just teaching soccer. He instills in these boys and girls the desire to succeed, teaching them life skills, discipline, and all about God's love for each of them. He turns no child away from his program....including Sudanese refugees who are usually shunned. Most of these children have no father with unstable home lives. One example is Kenneth (please see the blog post on him). Kenneth was on the streets and Kids First family took him to the Coach. My friend Patt began sponsoring his education with boarding. Kenneth became so skilled in soccer with Coach Lameck's instruction that an academy has undertaken his entire educational sponsorship! Imagine the inspiration this has given to each child in the soccer program.
I ask that when you see our Leland students who will begin their senior year next year....thank them for their compassionate hearts and tell them they are doing great work here in Uganda!
Mukama akuwe omukisa! (God Bless You All)