• FIRST BLOG OF 2018: CONAN IN HAITI

    February 3rd, 2018. First-Time  on-field as new CAC staff, Pedro, writes about his experience working with GOALS Haiti during the ASK for Choice program in Leogane. 

     Before starting my first trip as staff member of CAC i didn’t know anything about my destination: Haiti. It’s hard to hear from Haiti being in Spain -after visit MUPANAH one can imagine the reason-so i didn’t know what I was going to find.

    After a quick pass through Port au Prince we arrived in Leogane for work during the week with our partner in the city, GOALS Haiti.

    Once in Haiti, and Leogane in particular, this place stopped being a stranger to me. I learned, in only five days and a half, about the importance of this city in the history of the country.

    Some examples, it was in Leogane where the taino queen Anacaona raised up against the abuses of the Spanish invaders. Since then she represents the courage of the Haitian woman and her story has been immortalized in books, songs and is represented in a large statue that presides over the main square of Leogane.

    Leogane is one of the sport’s capitols in the country. It is home to five major league sports teams -remember that it’s a city with 90.000 population-. And it’s also important because music festivals and vodou religion too (did you know vodou is a religion? I didn’t either!).

    At the same time, I had the opportunity to visit the communities where GOALS Haiti is working. It was really impressive to see the large number of children participating in the sessions and how the community respected these moments. I have seen different trainings like this in many other countries and believe me, it’s not easy to get this picture.

    Why am I telling all this? Because as the TV show “Conan in Haiti” -he’s in the country on the same days that we are – we want people to know that Haiti of course it’s not always the country it is portrayed to be – and you will know from the first moment you set foot there.

  • Reducing Teen Pregnancy through Soccer

    On December 22nd, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Nicholaus Achimpota, from Tanzania writes about running a CAC program in Kigoma, alone. Nico is pictured above from another training he helped run in Pemba, Zanzibar. 

    My name is Nicholaus Achimpota. I have a Bachelor of Sports Science and Management at Ndejje University in Uganda. I have worked with CAC since 2008. In the last 10 years I have worked with the government as a sports officer in Kigoma, and for 3 years as the Chamwino district update.

    My job is training and monitoring the sports teachers, conducting workshops and seminars to club leaders, acting as the assistant registrar of the sports association and clubs planning yearly sports programs in my district. I work with 120 primary schools and 28 secondary schools.

    This week it was my first time to run the CAC program alone. It was not easy to believe that CAC would trust me to run the program in country, completely alone, without the leader from CAC staff – but they did!

    I was very happy to have this opportunity and I want to say thank you to all of the CAC staff for giving me this work. This means that I opened the door for other CAC members to work in their communities without the direct on-field overseeing of CAC.

    In the first day the participants didn’t believe what happened. During the introduction for the Sports Officer, Mr. Abdul, everyone was surprised that the program was being ran by me (Nicholaus) because the last year was ran by CAC’s Emily from America.

    At the end of the first day one of the coaches, Anastasia Busumabi, came to me and she said “Coach Nico, we understood the way you taught and how to use soccer to teach social issues. Because of the language barriers, we have feared to ask questions in previous years.” Another teacher Singo said “By bringing you here, it means even us we can do the same as you”. Which is the purpose of the Community Impact Coach program – to empower coaches to be leaders and role models for other coaches in their communities.

    The five-day program was based on how to use CAC games to prevent social issues specifically teenage pregnancy. So, we emphasized the games for conflict prevention, skills for life, HIV and gender equality.

    The participants impressed me, and motivated me to do all the best to make sure they understood how to use soccer to teach social issues to the community.

    It was very fun after four years to be back again to Kigoma and enjoy the nice food that they had to offer. Migebuka is the type of fish available at Lake Tanganyika and was my favorite during my stay. On Thursday afternoon I helped the teachers learn how to play Woodball.

    To be honest it was a great experience for me to learn and share skills with teachers in my country. Moreover, I never forgot to sing with them the song “Amatosa” and different concentration games. Nothing is impossible under the sun. It is important that all communities benefit with the CAC saying “Smile and solve your problem”.

    I am the first Community Impact Coach to run a program alone in Kigoma.

    Many more will follow the way. Goodbye Kigoma.

  • First Time Flying

    December 20th, 2017. Community Impact Coach and Online Education Program participant, Benedict, writes about his experience attending CAC trainings in India, developing as a coach in the OEP program, and traveling as a Community Impact Coach to Sri Lanka working with CAC partner Foundation of Goodness. 

    Little did I know, when I attended a training program in November 2016, with CAC that a few months later I would be given an opportunity to be a part of their Online Education Program. As thrilled as I was, I also was very anxious about the whole thing as I had no idea what the program was and the outcome of the program for me. All I knew was that I personally identified with the teaching methodology and the concept and that really excited me. As I started my journey with the Online Education Program I got to learn a lot, my teaching style changed the way I interacted with people – not only my players but even people of my community – and I started to feel more responsible towards society and youth. I had no idea that I would get an opportunity to go to other places or countries as a Community Impact Coach. When I was told about it, a little later after I started the OEP, I was thrilled beyond words as this is a major achievement for me and a dream come true. I always played sport and my community people considered me to be a failure when I didn’t get any employment opportunities through sports. It was at that time when I took it up as a challenge to prove that a lot can be achieved through sports. The opportunity that CAC has given me as a CIC empowers me to have so much pride in myself and in the work I do.

    When I received the mail about the sessions in other parts of India I was very excited and eager to join them. But it so happened that due to other commitments at work I was unable to be a part of it. I was really upset and felt very disheartened. I felt that my next chance to be a part of the training would be only next year until one night I received an e-mail from Mark that I would be going to Sri Lanka. At first I could not believe it! It took a while for it me to settle down. This was going to be my first flight experience and not just national but international….. I have always seen my colleagues who teach subjects like science, math etc travel to other countries on training and I always wanted to be the one to travel from sports for training as well. So when I saw my ticket, it was an unforgettable moment for me.

    Finally the time had come near and I got to meet Charlie, with whom I was to be traveling with. I worked with him for a week before we travelled and he gave me a lot of confidence in myself. I thought that we would have other coaches meet us directly at Sri Lanka but when I learned it was going to be just the 2 of us, I became really worried and nervous. That being said, Charlie made me feel very confident about myself. He gave me useful coaching tips and he gave me a lot of freedom to coach in my own style. This seldom happens in India we are expected to follow teaching methods of others and are not always allowed to be ourselves. He taught me how to maintain a journal of my daily activities and how to plan my sessions. This has all been very useful for me, and I have started implementing it in my regular schedules now, as well.

    Our Sri Lanka trip was not just all training and no fun… We had a lot of fun on the field and off the field. My off the field experiences are unbelievable as well. I accompanied a few volunteers from Foundation of Goodness when they went deep sea diving, though I didn’t go into the water myself just being in the middle of the ocean was an experience on its own. I felt like I was in a Bond movie doing one of the chasing scenes.

    This trip is a milestone in my carrier, I am using this as a tool to reach out to more people, both students and people in my community. I am putting to use everything that I have learned during this journey and I am looking forward to travelling on many more assignments. I want to thank CAC for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to learn from other communities as well. A special thanks to Markus for being a great instructor and a good support throughout the Online Education Program, and I’m happy that I came across a wonderful person like Charlie.

  • It’s Colombia not Columbia

    December 15th, 2017. Nora Dooley writes about delivering ASK for Choice programs in Colombia with Community Partner Inder Alcaldía de Medellín, alongside Corporate Partners Nike, Postobón, GIZ, and Groupo Internacional de Paz, to close out a strong year working across the country for the rights of women and girls.

    I treasure this moment of reflection. Four years after beginning my work with Coaches Across Continents, five years after graduating from Columbia University, I have spent more time in one country than any other: Colombia.

    Working with CAC as a facilitator necessitates humility and a unique acceptance of the unknown. With our intention to challenge international NGO culture that designs development programs based on foreign knowledge of best practices (which can also be called white supremacy/ neo-colonialism), we must enter each community assuming and imposing nothing. Our job is to provide some structure through fun, play-based activities that stimulate group discussion, self-directed learning and collective problem-solving, and to support our partners as they create legacies for the social changes they want to see.

    As little as I claim to know about this world, I can share some experiences – many of which I have enjoyed in Colombia with a faction of the large government organization, Inder Medellín.

    Colombia is complicated. And even knowing more people and more facts about this country than most others, my U.S.-raised brain cannot imagine the depths of this complexity. I feel so fortunate, therefore, to have various and continuous opportunities to share time and space with Colombians invested in their community’s future.

    Our work in Colombia throughout 2017 was bolstered by the social responsibility efforts of Nike and Postobón. This programming, centered on our ASK for Choice program which uses play to develop Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge to inform choices for women, men, and communities, caught some welcome attention. We spent a week north of Bogotá sharing with the GIZ sponsored program in collaboration with CAC partner, Grupo Internacional de Paz, and then returned to Medellín to learn more alongside humans I am lucky to call friends at Inder.

    During this training with representatives from Inder’s ‘Deporte, Convivencia y Paz’ and ‘Cultura D’ teams, we focused on gender, problem-solving, game adaptation and creation, challenging and transforming the cultures we want to change, and the vast possibilities available inside the lines of the sports field to address all that lives beyond it.

    I feel so grateful for CAC’s strong partnership with Inder, for my Paisa family, and for the experience (and wisdom?) to know – at least in my life – that it most definitely is Colombia, not Columbia.

     

  • The Rose That Grew From Concrete

    December 14th, 2017. Self-Directed Learning Educator, Mark Gabriel, writes about his personal reflections from the week on-field in Hpa an, Myanmar with Football United

    The Rose That Grew From Concrete  named accredited to Tupac Amaru Shakur

    My friend’s dad once told me, “You never know the impact you have on people. Something you do now could impact them forever. You won’t know it and maybe even they won’t know it. Just live it, be it, and have faith.” These words have helped me understand my role as a Self-Directed Learning Coach and Process Consultant with CAC. I do this work because I believe that, by empowering community leaders to challenge the status quo and ask themselves, “Why do I believe what I believe?”, they are able to be the master of their ways. To make sure that any changes in mentality and behavior come from within the community, we as CAC only stay in each location for one week (and continue the year-round partnership from afar). I have oftentimes been asked if I really think anything can happen in just one week On-Field. My answer — yes. This approach allows for the community leaders to be the catalysts of change rather than looking at us to be. The only thing is… if there is change, I probably won’t see it. Change takes time, and that goes for anything. If you want to lose weight, or learn how to meditate, it takes time. And those changes only have to do with you! Imagine when it involves an entire community. Or an entire culture and belief system. Yea… it can take a while.
    But we are not here to be the change. We are not here to see the change. We are here to spark the change. As a Self-Directed Learning Coach, we constantly challenge ourselves and our participants to self-reflect. This in and of itself can be life-changing for many (it sure has been for me). Questioning oneself, one’s beliefs, one’s culture, one’s existence, is not a frequented practice, but yet its power is incomparable. Each program is unique in its own right, as are the participants. However, the impact of having them ask themselves the “Why?” behind aspects of their life stays consistent. Many a time, it is a first for participants to do such a practice.

    This week in Hpa-An, it felt much the same. Our participants ranged from players to students to coaches to wannabe coaches, and all were confident in their culture and how life goes in Hpa-An. As they should be! Who knows life in Hpa-An better than them? But once we challenged to think about life itself, and not just in the context of their home, the gears began to spin. Having them question when to award a team a point (do you award the team that finishes first or the team that does it right? Why?), the importance of competition, who can/cannot play sports, what are the differences between man and woman; these questions transcend any cultural norms but find people answer through their own perspective, influenced by their upbringing. Even as a facilitator of these programs, I still find myself falling back to my own culture to paint a picture of the world. Each program I lead, I find myself being challenged more and more to break my tainted perception. This shows us how much our nurture impacts our views on the world. Such realizations and the following inter-personal reflections are what will lead to change.

    As of right now, what will become of Football United in Hpa-An is a bit unclear as it is in the beginning stages. It would be easy to be discouraged by the lack of “impact” when looking at sheer numbers of trainings, numbers of coaches, number of players worked with, etc. But impact is much more than these quantitative measures. If our training led to one participant challenging her or hisself, the potential impact is limitless. Maybe I won’t be the change, or see the change, but maybe I hear of the change. One day.

    Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s law is wrong it learned to walk without having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.”

    — Tupac Amaru Shakur

     

  • Parikrma in Tiento

    December 13th, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Thilaga, from NAZ Foundation writes about on-field experience working with CAC and partner Parikrma Humanity Foundation in Bangalore, India.

    Parikrma Humanity Foundation is a non-profit organization located in Bangalore, India. Parikrma addresses the growing gap in urban India between those benefitting from economic liberalization and those who are not, in which consequently only a minority of children in India can afford access to private schools where the content of education is of high quality and in the English medium. Children from slum and rural communities attend schools in the free government-run mass schooling system, where they only teach in the state language, which often proves insufficient in attaining job opportunities in a rapidly globalizing world.

    Parikrma believes that even the poorest children from the slums of urban India should be able to access the best opportunities in our globalized society and play a positive role in its evolution.
    The name Parikrma comes from a combination of two Sanskrit words, “pari” meaning circle, and “krma” meaning to complete. Parikrma strives to complete “The Circle of Life” by supporting children from kindergarten until they procure a job, thus ensuring that their students break out of the cycle of poverty.

    The CAC training for Parikrma was held at Tiento Sports football Arena, from the 27th of November, 2017 to the 1st of December, 2017, where around 45-50 participants from Parikrma attended. 20 were girls.

    As a CIC I would really like to thank Charlie for giving me the best training, which has changed my coaching type completely to be much more vibrant and active for delivering the sessions with more fun and laughter with the trainees on feild.

    Thanks to the other two CIC’s Jaspreet and Benny who were very supportive during the training.