A Haven of Hope
CAC India Team Leader Jamie and Community Impact Coach Benny have been working in rural communities near the city of Pune this week, with Maher – an NGO that provides shelter to underserved women, children and men across the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Maher means ‘Mothers Home’ in Marathi; a place of belonging, understanding and acceptance. For over 20 years, Maher has opened their doors and provided shelter for many of those in need – providing a place to sleep, eat and live while also sending them to school. Currently, they provide a place to call home for 960 children, 170 women and 60 older men. They heard about CAC through our Accredited partner Slum Soccer and wanted to learn about #PurposefulPlay and how it could benefit their children. To tie in with Maher’s core values of acceptance and education, we delivered a programme focused on UNSDGs: 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality) and 10 (Reduced Inequalities).
Our programme was split into two parts – in the mornings we would travel to one of Maher’s other homes in very rural areas, and deliver some fun #EducationOutsideTheClassroom sessions to children and women who had never experienced #PurposefulPlay before. These were introductory sessions that we had a lot of fun with – this new style of learning was greatly enjoyed and each time we left they would ask when they could play more games! At CAC, Sustainability is at the core of everything we do – so to ensure long term impact we always work with the teachers, coaches and in this case social workers to provide them the skills so that these kids can continue learning and having fun, even after we’ve left.
This is where our evening sessions come into the picture, where we worked with around 30 social workers on topics that they felt were most relevant to them. Gender Equality (#UNSDG5) and Reduced Inequalities (#UNSDG10) came up often, so we played many games from our #ASKforChoice curriculum. These social workers had also discussed these topics with the children, but had never considered that using sport was possible and the best way to engage them in difficult conversations.
It was a very successful programme with Maher, now enthused about #EducationOutsideTheClassroom and already inviting us back! My personal highlight is that we managed to involve some of the older orphaned children in the programme, one young man at the end said ‘everyone has always told me I can’t do stuff, but CAC told me I can and encouraged me’. Sustainability has many forms, and supporting someone to find some self-belief so that they can continue believing in their self, is sustainability that matters.
Partnerships for the GOALS
The CAC team have been in Armenia this last week, working in Partnership with the Kansas National Guard and GOALS Armenia. Using our #PurposefulPlay curriculum, we delivered a 3 day summer camp high up on the beautiful mountains of Yenokavan, in Northern Armenia for local children of military families. Our Goal for this was to focus on UNSDG #5 Gender Equality whilst also introducing #EducationOutsideTheClassroom to young people who had never experienced it before. There were 44 children in attendance with an ideal 50/50 split of girls and boys.
The summer camp was a lot of fun and using the amazing story of Brazilian international football player and role model Marta, we were able to have in-depth conversations about the harmful impact of gender roles and we also had discussions about how we can be more inclusive in our schools and communities.
The brilliant GOALS Armenia facilitators played many games from our ASK For Choice curriculum, creating fun and safe environment where the participants could share their thoughts and feelings. We also introduced a lot of team-building activities, with one participant stating “I made many friends thanks to this camp and have gained a lot of skills like how to build my confidence and work as a team.”
The Kansas National Guard were also a major part of this camp – the 4 officers played a game with the children so they could learn more about life in the army in America, and also through this game their stereotypes were challenged when they learned the officer ‘in charge’ was the female officer. A special thanks to Major Solander for not only playing a major part in helping make this camp possible, but for sharing her inspiring story of being a female in the military and the challenges she faced.
This camp was a massive success, mostly down to the fact we had three organisations, from different countries and different backgrounds, coming together to put on a world class camp for the children and young people of Armenia. This was UNSDG #17 in action.
Some Much Needed ‘Girl Determined’ Time
International Peace Day has proved itself one of the most impactful days of the year. Since it’s foundation, Peace One Day helps lead the world in honoring and celebrating September 21st as a day of Global Cease-Fire and Peace. As a long time partner of POD, Coaches Across Continents contributes to this celebration with strategy consultations, social media exposure, and free activity & game resource packets to our global network. This global impact reaches over 100 countries!
With the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to rally behind, Peace One Day highlights Goal #17: Partnerships for the Goals. In the spirit of #17, those in the CAC network have helped us translate our free Game Packet into 9 different languages! This opens doors for more and more organizations and people to celebrate the day.
Over the next week, Coaches Across Continents’ partners will celebrate Peace Day with a wide range of activities. One example is in Mindinao, Philippines, where our partner, Gawad Kalinga, hosts games and activities for the children on both sides of the ongoing conflict between soldiers and rebels. Another is a South Sudanese refugee camp that will hold a tournament. There will be dancing in the DRC, Parades in Liberia, Festivals in Indonesia and CAC games being played in 100+ countries around the globe.
Coaches Across Continents is the global leader in Creating Legacies. Our efforts on projects and programming such as this one have been recognized with 25 major global awards, including 2018’s Beyond Sport Global Impact of the Year Award.
To get your own CAC Game packet, just follow the link with your language! And for any questions, pictures, videos or stories, please contact charlie@
I Will Be Strong!
July 28, 2018. Board member Dr. Judith Gates is with our team, back in Kigoma, Tanzania where we held our first-ever program ten years ago. #CAC10. #WhatsYourLegacy?
“I Will Be Strong!”
These were the final words I heard amidst all of the goodbyes, exchange of email addresses and chatter about selfie photo ops that invariably mark the end of a Coaches Across Continents programme. Teachers and coaches were jostling with each other and sharing plans as to how they were going to put all they had learned that week into practice. The group of students, identifiable by their green uniforms, were talking enthusiastically about new insights gained.
She came up to me. Tall and athletically built, she unexpectedly hugged me, kissed my cheek and said, “Thank you. I will be strong!”
My spirits soared. I understood what she was saying. I knew what she meant.
This week’s programme was to mark the 10th anniversary of Coaches Across Continents. Ten years ago the very first CAC programme was held in Kigoma, Tanzania. CAC had returned to mark this important anniversary. It all began here. From one programme in one country in 2008, CAC is now working in over 50 countries around the world.
All week, with Nick working alongside Nico as leader, the group had focussed on the challenging issue of Child Rights and Child Protection. Curriculum activities had included games in which participants had identified sources of potential harm, recognised the varying forms of abuse, identified who could be of help and which places could be considered safe. They had explored attitudes and expectations relevant to their local community. Teachers and students had shared ideas together during the games, but also worked separately to discuss factors which were specifically relevant to their age group or profession. They had then talked with each and demonstrated their capacity for understanding differing points of view.
I had led a discussion on abuse. I asked which form of abuse, physical, emotional, verbal or sexual, was most prevalent in their community. Hesitation was minimal. The vast majority of both teachers and students cited sexual abuse. Teenage pregnancies were high. Girls were forced to marry at an early age. Hunger and poverty led to girls being sold, or selling themselves, sometimes for only a bag of rice. The boundary between Child Rights and Women’s Rights blurred as they explored the reality of life for young girls in their community.
I asked teachers and students, each in their separate group, to think about what could be done, how things could improve. Acknowledging the problem openly was seen as key. The students suggested media reporting, government intervention. Their message was clear. We deserve support and help. Children should not have to experience these things. Teachers suggested education and parental involvement. Both groups wanted answers and action. The aspiration of the girl students was to complete their education and find a job, so that their subsequent life decisions were made from a position of relative strength.
The final words I shared with them were about personal responsibility. We can turn to others to make the changes we want, but we each have the capacity to influence in some way the context in which we live. I asked them to be strong. I asked them to contribute to the changes they hoped for.
I told them they each could be part of the solution, they each could contribute to making Kigoma an even better community.
And she had heard me. Her final words were of latent power, of commitment, of hope. “I will be strong!” That is the message CAC endeavours to leave behind, hoping that it will take root and contribute to locally desired community changes around the world. Another first for Kigoma!
~ Dr. Judith Gates
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.