• From Nshima and Dance Parties to Burning Trash and Bumpy Roads

    June 26th 2017. Global Citizen Charlie Overton wrote about CAC’s partnership with Zanimuone Black Stars in Lusaka, Zambia. 

    From eating Nshima (pronounced shima) and having dance parties to burning landfills of trash and very bumpy roads, my time in Lusaka Zambia will be with me for a lifetime. It was life changing as well as memorable. Furthermore, it was humbling and gratifying. Living in Lusaka was unlike any experience I’ve had in my life up until now.

    Ashlyn and I stayed with our organizer, Betty, her husband of five years, Felix, and eight children ranging from ages 1 to 18. Now, if you think that Betty had all these children herself in some kind of “octomom” fashion, as well as working as a secretary, taxi driver, and starting a not for profit organization, then you would be wrong. She does work as all those things, but not all the children are directly hers. Three of them are her own, and the others she has welcomed into her home and they come from all different paths. Chikondi, who is around thirteen, is from Betty’s sister who passed away. Miriam, whom I apologize I do not know her exact age, but I believe is around seven or eight, came from Betty’s brother. He kept dropping Miriam off with Betty and then at different times coming back to pick her up. Betty saw this as very disruptive to Miriam’s growth as she kept being pulled out of school, so eventually she said enough was enough and that Miriam was going to stay with her. Then there are Moses, who I believe is around nine or ten, Chard, who we called Chadrick, eighteen, and his sister Jessica, seventeen. They all came from the surrounding area. Moses from one of Betty’s friends who she saw was unable to feed him. Chadrick came to Betty looking for work and Jessica came a little later when Chadrick told Betty that their parents did not want Jessica to go to school anymore. They all work very hard cleaning and cooking around the house in exchange for money, accommodation, and education. The three that are Betty’s own are named Bright, one, and Felix Jr., four, they do not do much but waddle around and ask for the football. Betty’s oldest, Alisha, aged ten, loved Indian soap operas when she was not at school, I am sure working hard! This was the setting we lived in for one week, and it taught me a lot about the value of hard work and working for everything you have. That is what these kids are learning in Betty’s household, because as she said, “they need to work hard, because life won’t be easy,” that is a very valuable lesson. It is one I can remember my parents trying to get me to understand, but I was not very receptive to it. I suppose I had to travel to Zanimuone West in Lusaka, Zambia for it to really hit home.

    As in any place there are always not as nice things that go along with the nice ones, and Lusaka was no different. These things included that near the field we did our training at there was a massive landfill that was constantly burning their trash in order to make room for the even more massive amounts of trash coming in. On one of the days the wind shifted and caused the smoke to come and hang right over our field, this caused breathing to be very difficult. Furthermore, Zanimuone West, the district of Lusaka we were staying in, was an up and coming area, therefore, the roads had not been paved so it was very rocky and bumpy and in many places. However, this also created some funny moments, such as pushing Betty’s car off of a huge bump that it got beached on. With the good and the bad, Lusaka proved to be extremely life changing, and I am very thankful to Betty and her family for housing us and feeding us. The experience will stay with me forever.

     

  • When a Participant Breaks his Gender Role in Front of the Whole Group

    June 23rd 2017. What’s Not Said Founder Sarah Sedlack joined our recent program with Ndejje University in Ndejje, Uganda to deliver additional sessions to some of the group.

    Neck deep in a class discussion around male victims of rape and a participant raises his hand to speak.
    When it’s his turn, he begins to reveal an incredibly personal story about sexual issues in his own marriage.
    “My wife rapes me.” Certain members of the class, both women and men, giggle, some of them in
    disbelief. I then address the entire class, “we need to all be respectful and listen quietly. He is trusting us
    with something very personal and showing a lot of courage right now.” Then, talking directly to him I say,
    “if you feel comfortable, please continue.” He explains that his wife not only ignores him when he
    communicates that he doesn’t want to have sex, but laughs at him and proceeds to mount him anyway.

    Here we have a Ugandan man, showing emotion and expressing pain in front of other men and women in
    the community. Specifically, this community was a product from our partnerships, with Ndejje University
    hosting the event, Coaches Across Continents (CAC) implementing their programs with Mark as the
    primary coordinator and coach, and What’s Not Said (WNS) with getting to hop on for a few days and
    provide supplementary training. The participants were passionate about playing soccer, coaching it, and promoting
    community leadership. Mark and I piggybacked on each other by referencing each other’s skill building
    exercises during our respective training sessions. For example, I facilitated discussion around consent and
    he created a game to illustrate how understanding is impaired without consent. For the sake of adding
    value and meaning to our discussion, this Ugandan man risked social rejection for the remainder of the
    training sessions on the field. Showing emotion not only goes against his gender norm as a man
    (expressing and communicating feelings and victim-hood in public), but it could be interpreted as a sign of
    weakness. I felt honored to witness this level of empowerment. Both as a sex educator of What’s Not Said
    and as a person in the world, I see the positive impacts being vulnerable can have in our relationships and
    communities, especially as a man in a society where men hold overt, systemic privilege and power.

    Showing vulnerability happened both on the field and off the field. Off the field, trainees showed humility
    and emotions and on the field trainees enthusiastically participated in games designed for children, which at
    times meant acting like a frog and chanting silly sounds in front of everyone. Off the field, the
    vulnerability allowed the conversation to organically move in directions I would have only dreamed of
    going. For the first time in What’s Not Said history, we were discussing the importance of sexual
    negotiation in relationships and marriages and the need for teaching about pleasure in conversations around
    consent and sexual assault prevention. And let me remind you, this all happened at a University in Uganda.

    I was warned by everyone, from Kenyans to westerners, to be careful and perhaps censor what I talked about, in Uganda. Uganda is known for being a bit more closed when it comes to sexuality, much of these attitudes being based on current laws (for example, homosexuality is illegal). And I have to admit that made me a bit nervous. But through my vulnerability and the vulnerability of our partners, remaining shame free about my work, active listening and keeping the discussions participant-focused, Uganda surprised me for the better.

    My name is Sarah Sedlack and I am founder of a culturally adaptive, comprehensive sex education program
    called What’s Not Said (www.whatsnotsaid.org). I discovered CAC through networking in Kenya and
    immediately developed both a mentoring and professional relationship with the organization. That relationship brought me to a CAC partnership in Uganda, where I facilitated discussions on Ugandan current events and taboo topics with community leaders from all over Uganda. The intentions of the forums were to empower more responsible community leadership, teaching skills in developing self awareness and empathy. These very skills were practiced in sport as part of CAC on-field games and reviews.

    This class goes down as one of the most memorable sessions because the participants were willing to explore
    openly together, which made it easier for all of us to learn from each other. A 39 year old male participant
    reveals what he thought was most meaningful about the forum, “WNS gave us the confidence to be free to
    be who we are and create new friendships among other participants.” As for myself, I feel thankful I got
    this opportunity to explore Uganda in such an intimate way, both on and off the field. I deeply respect the
    conversations shared and look forward to more to come.

    Until next time!
    ~Sarah

  • Michael Johnson Convenes Young Leaders in Dallas Summit

    June 21st 2017. Thanks to Beyond Sport for the following press release.

    Olympic legend Michael Johnson brings young leaders from 10 different countries together for a week-long summit at his cutting-edge performance center in Texas, furthering his support of young people working, leading and improving their community through sport around the world through the Michael Johnson Foundation.

    Now in the second year of the program, the Michael Johnson Young Leaders – all of whom have overcome adversity in their lives in some way – are given the confidence, skills and resources to use sport to make a positive impact on their future. The program focuses on world class sports training, leadership development and community engagement.

    Following the success of the inaugural program in 2016, the newest cohort of Young Leaders will travel to the Michael Johnson Performance Center, Dallas, from all over the world – Jamaica, Australia, Zambia, USA, UK, India, Philippines, Lebanon, Singapore and South Africa.

    The first phase of the program will involve the Young Leaders going through an intensive one week course of activities focusing on leadership development, community engagement and sports coaching and performance. They will be supported by a team of experts from around the world who specialize in sport for development, community coaching and youth leadership. This includes support from the Michael Johnson Performance team of cutting edge performance coaches, nutrition educators and sports administrators.

    Following the course in Dallas, the Young Leaders will go through a personalized twelve-month plan to support a key project they have developed that will use sport to engage and improve their community, as well as their own personal development. This support includes state-of-the-art virtual sports coaching sessions designed by Michael Johnson Performance Center, ongoing mentoring to continue their leadership development, and tangible support for their own goals and projects aimed at using sport to help their community. This includes funding, kit, and connections into to an extensive global network of leading organizations in sports, government, education, business and development.

    Following the year-long engagement, the Young Leaders will continue to be supported as alumni of the program, providing them with network, profile, and tangible education and employment opportunities.

    Michael Johnson said of the launch of the second year of the program: “These young people are already doing incredible things in their communities. We have a participant who is dodging bullets in order to provide sports training for young girls. We have a participant who is campaigning to the UK government for better access to disability sport. They are truly inspiring and have shown me the incredible plans they have to transform their communities, but which they need help to implement. We will be here to give them that help and we can’t wait to see what they will achieve.”

    Regarding the desired outcomes for the young people on the programme, Michael said: “It’s not about finding the next Gold Medallist – although if someone has the potential then Michael Johnson Performance will identify and nurture that talent. It is our hope that successful alumni of Young Leaders will become community leaders by starting their own sports charity or clubs, or become an influential coach to young people. Success here means that every single young person who has gone through Young Leaders will have the skills and opportunity to be a positive influence in their community.”

    Jamie Tomkinson ,22, a Young Leader from Class of 2016 , used the skills learnt and networks built to increase the role he plays in his community in Edinburgh: “As a result of the support from the MJYL program and the partner organizations, I have received support to deliver sport-based youth clubs for children and young people from disadvantaged areas”.

    Another MJYL alumnus, Simon, 17, from Uganda said, “As a result of the skills I learned and the ongoing support from the team at MJP, I was able to organize sporting events that coincided with World Peace Day.”

    The participants for the Class of 2017 were selected by Michael and a carefully curated panel of experts in youth leadership, sport, and social change. The selection process was carried out in partnership with Coaches Across Continents, the award-winning global charity that trains up local community leaders in using sport as a tool for social change.

  • Connecting Kenya and Ghana

    June 13th. CAC Community Impact Coach (CIC) Charles Otieno writes about working with DUNK Grassroots in Accra, Ghana. Charles, a long-time CIC from Kenya traveled to Ghana to help us run the programs.

    In our last week in Ghana we visited DUNK Grassroots, an organization located at Jamestown, Accra. The town is one of the oldest places in Accra and it’s known for fishing and colonial history. The light house is the land mark of the place and if you climb to the top you will have a glance of the capital city, Accra and the fishing harbor.

    The organization has a center that acts as a safe space for many kids, since they have opportunities to play, learn and grow to be change agents in their respective communities. The organization main sport is basketball, so we (Jordan, JK and I) had to be creative enough to play the games using basketball skills. It was a week of fun and learning moments for the participants and the organization coaches. It was my first time to teach games to participants who are basketballers. We delivered the curriculum to the U12, U14 and Girls teams and had a cohort of coaches who were the key part of the training.

    Though we are not professional basketball players we aimed at achieving our goal using thematic games to teach our participants. It was a success since the participants were able to learn and have fun. Looking at the smiles in their faces and how they responded to the open questions really made me happy because I believe there is nothing better than putting a smile on someone’s face and adding knowledge to them.

    In the end the participants were able to review and reflect the games we played in the real life situation and the majority promised to share what they have learnt. And that was my last work in Ghana as I had to say good bye and leave the Ghanaians with a big smile and knowledge. I hope they will take it to the next level by teaching more people and making Ghana an even better place.

    It was exciting travelling with CAC miles away from my country Kenya. I learnt lots of things personally. Coaches Across Continents has really made me grow. I want to thank CAC for this life changing opportunity to go to a different country to teach sport for social impact games. Not forgetting the wonderful team that I worked with; CAC staff Jordan Stephenson and Global citizen JK Cho.

  • Nothing Is Black And White

    June 12th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Charlie Overton writes about his 1st week with CAC in Livingstone, Zambia with New Hope Waves.

    With the week coming to a close, so does my first week in Africa. We left Livingstone this morning and arrived in Lusaka the capital of Zambia early in the afternoon. As we enter the weekend and look forward to the Champions League final tonight, I am also looking forward to my second week being a Global Citizen with CAC. I am looking forward to being able to have something to compare with my time in Livingstone. I had an amazing time in Livingstone, it was a great way to begin my experience working with CAC. It was also my first time in Africa and a “developing” country. This made it difficult to describe my emotions, whenever anyone asked me what I thought of Livingstone or Africa in general. Everything was new to me, so I was just taking it all in.

    Now that my week is over, I am able to sit back and think about my experience. As I said before I had an amazing time in Livingstone. I loved and still love the people of Livingstone, they are all extremely friendly and welcoming. We stayed in the Jollyboys campground, which felt like our own little compound, because for the majority of our time their Ashlyn (the CAC team leader) and I were the only ones there. A great part about this was that the employees working there were much more relaxed, especially at night. It was great to watch movies with Daniel, the man who works at night. He always watches movies at night, depending on which movies were being shown on the movie channels. We watched the James Bond movie Skyfall the first night and two Transformers movies the following night. Also, a perk of having a hostel to yourself is that when Ashlyn and I wanted to exercise we did not have to worry about being in anyone’s way, or worrying about the showers being occupied afterwards. I highly recommend the Jollyboys campground, when you are the only guests there.

    Furthermore, staying in the campground, as opposed to the backpackers lodge more in town, was beneficial, because most of the time the Mzungus (white people) who come to Livingstone do not really go into the surrounding areas and see the real side of Livingstone. However, our week with New Hope Waves and the founder Aldridge required us to work at a field that was in a neighborhood called Malota, which is one of the more impoverished areas in Livingstone. As we would walk back to town some days, because usually everyone walks to places in Livingstone, we would walk by markets selling second hand clothes, garbage piles falling into nearby rivers, and smiling children running up to us, because they were very excited to see a white person. How were we supposed to go out and see these impoverished people and places, and return to the touristy hostel where people are busy getting drunk and only interested in going to touristy places like Victoria Falls. Do not get me wrong seeing the Victoria Falls was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. It was without a doubt the wettest experience I have had. An absurd amount of water falls on you as you try take a picture of a natural wonder. However, coming to Livingstone just to see the falls and party at your hostel I don’t believe counts as a way to truly experience Africa and its people. They are missing out on learning some of the local language and seeing the smile on the people of Livingstone’s faces when you say, “zikomo,” which means thank you. In my opinion those smiles matter more to me than any drink I could have had.

    In a time when the relationship between black and white is very tense, my time in Livingstone shows both the effects of a positive relationship and a negative one. As people coming from the “west” we have to be careful of our role in African life. Africa is not our playground. It is not a place where we can come, stay in a lavish hostel, see some wild animals, go see a natural wonder for a week or a few days, and then say we have been to Africa. I do not think this constitutes as Africa. Did we talk to the people? Get to know any of them? Where are they from? What do they do for work or for fun? What are their dreams and aspirations? In many places around the world I think it is okay to be a tourist, and only go to the touristy places. However, in Africa or other places where colonialism and western powers have caused many issues in the development of these countries we need to be careful and sure about our intentions when we visit these wonderful places. Because do not get me wrong these places are truly wonderful. Colonialism has definitely caused many issues by creating the foundations for unequal distribution of power. And although colonialism is technically over some of those foundations are still around. Colonialism is still being blamed for the poverty in Africa, but although I saw many people living in poor conditions with garbage all over the places and kids playing soccer with ripped shoes or no shoes I also saw that there were places and people in Livingstone with money and wealth. They may not have been millionaires, but they were well off. Therefore, unlike the way it is commonly perceived, Africans are not all poor. It is not black and white. Livingstone is a wonderful place with both rich and poor living very close side by side. Hopefully with the work CAC is doing with New Hope Waves the people of Livingstone can help the less fortunate to grow and everyone can prosper in this amazing place.

  • Using Sports to Unlock the Conversation

    June 9th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo blogs about working with the Ministry of Sport in Pemba, Tanzania.

    From Unguja, Nico and I made the short trip to the island of Pemba (also part of the Zanzibar archipelago), where we joined Markus for the next week’s program. From living in Tanzania, I’d heard of Pemba to be one of the most exotic and remote vacation destinations imaginable: a remote tropical island, unblemished by the tourism industry that has overtaken parts of the busier Unguja island. When I told friends in Tanzania that I was to spend a week in Pemba, I saw the jealousy in their eyes, assuming that I was off for nothing more than a beach holiday. While it’s true that Pemba is among the more comfortable CAC program destinations, it, like any CAC program, is no holiday.

    On Pemba, it is not uncommon for men to have multiple wives, many of whom are married as teenagers. The average woman bears at least 6 children. Though a man may have dozens of children depending on him for support, there are few economic opportunities available to make that possible. In keeping with religious-based tradition, women are sometimes not permitted to leave the home – the husband does all the family’s external business. For the women who do go out in public, it is unusual to see anything more than their faces and hands. Domestic abuse of women and children is seldom seen and even less openly discussed. Sexual abuse of children is known to exist in theory, but rarely traced to a specific person or institution (school, mosque, etc). It is safe to say that Pemba has its share of social issues – issues that, over the course of the week, our participants became more willing to acknowledge and discuss.

    On Monday morning, though nearly a quarter of our 40 something participants had attended our program in a previous year, there were many among the remaining fraction of attendees who seemed unsure of what they had shown up for, some perhaps even a little bit skeptical of what they could possibly gain from the three of us. For some, tactical football instruction seemed to be the priority, rather than any sort of social impact coaching. But despite this, throughout the week, I admired the groups’ receptiveness to our discussion and their increasing willingness to listen and participate in the program. Of course, the curriculum itself is the key to opening our discussions and drawing people into the whole program. It is what makes CAC’s work possible anywhere: using something as fun and engaging as sports to direct a group’s energy to focus on heavier topics that, like sexual abuse of children, can be considerably less fun to engage with. The group began to appreciate the subtle ways that sports can be used to teach valuable off-field lessons. I observed several knowing grins and nods of understanding every time we pointed out the ways that the games reinforce using your voice, as the idea of encouraging children to use their voice seemed to be one that appealed the most to our group. At our closing ceremony on Friday, some of those who had been the least involved on Monday vociferously expressed their satisfaction with the program and their gratitude to the coaches for working with their group, and I was proud to have witnessed their transformations over the week. Though Pemba still has a number of social issues its leaders continually grapple with, I am confident that with every class of CAC participants, there are a few more voices in the community who have the confidence and inspiration to push for the changes they would like to see on their island.