• 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.

  • Somos Niñas Sin Miedo – We Are Girls Without Fear

    June 8th 2017. ASK for Choice Strategist, Nora Dooley, shares thoughts about the 2nd On-Field training in collaboration with Postobón and Nike in Bogotá, Colombia.

    Is it natural to fear? Do evolving human beings carry traces of antiquated phobias? Are evolutionary fears related to learned fears? Fears that we adopt because of all the interconnected strings pulling at our lives from the moment we are born – fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of other… Social and cultural fears being the more present and immediate evolutions, adding tension to our human experiences with their restrictions, walls, and immobilizing forces.

    I am a woman with fears (spiders and death to name a few)… but I think there is a difference, albeit blurry, between learning with and owning your fears, and being taught to fear by your environment. I was (and still am) lucky to have been nurtured in a space where fear was offered recognition but never deference. And that, I believe, is exactly what Niñas sin Miedo is doing in the hills of Soacha, Colombia.

    Let me please tell you – these girls are powerful. From their booming voices answering open-ended and complicated questions about gender in Colombian society, to their passion for play and commitment to the beautiful communities of Los Pinos and Bella Vista. These are areas few might label as ‘rich’ but having been there myself, having worked with and learned from the Niñas as well as several other leaders from organizations around Soacha, I can vouch for the seemingly endless riches at play here.

    At a time in Colombia – and in the world – where working through our fears, engaging in dialogues with people from different backgrounds, asking ourselves difficult, uncomfortable questions, challenging our accepted beliefs about our lives and our worlds, it feels timely, essential, and poetic that this group of human beings was brought together. And especially for the girls, the women, and any human that has ever felt marginalized or discriminated by a society that learned to fear uncertainty or  ‘other’.

    I once again feel so honored to have shared space and time, and to have collectively raised consciousness with a group of inspiring leaders in Colombia. Thanks to our ongoing alliance with Postobón, Nike Colombia, and our impressive local implementing partners like Niñas sin Miedo, we’ve been gifted opportunities to laugh, dance, play and dig deep into what gender equality looks like, and what we are going to do, personally and collectively, to arrive at a more equal future.

    When people unite energies, particularly people from a variety of perspectives, histories, environments, sports, and all the intricate factors that make us who we are, I passionately believe this is when the magic of creation is unleashed. I also believe, together with a diverse group of individuals and organizations from across Bogotá, Colombia for a week in May 2017, that we harnessed that magic and created something that will transcend borders, walls, harmful cultures, and, yes, fear.

    These Niñas sin Miedo have inspired me to live beyond my fears – and I am so excited to hear their voices echoing around the world.

     

    El 8 de Junio, 2017. Nora Dooley de CAC y ‘ASK for Choice’ comparte su experiencia sobre la segunda capacitación de la alianza con Postobón y Nike en Bogotá, Colombia.

    ¿Es natural para tener miedo? ¿Los seres humanos llevan vestigios de fobias anticuadas? Miedos que adoptamos por todas las cuerdas interconectadas desde el momento en que nacemos – el miedo de fracasar, el miedo de lo desconocido, el miedo del otro… Los miedos sociales y culturales siendo las formas más presentes y inmediatas de evolución, añadiendo tensión a nuestras experiencias humanas con sus límites, paredes, y fuerzas de inmovilización.

    Soy una mujer con miedos (las arañas y la muerte para nombrar algunos)… pero creo que hay una diferencia, aunque borrosa, entre aprender y reconocer sus miedos, y ser enseñ[email protected] a tener miedo por su ambiente. Yo tenía (y todavía tengo) mucha suerte para ser criada en un espacio donde el miedo era ofrecido reconocimiento pero nunca deferencia. Y eso, yo creo, es exactamente lo que Niñas sin Miedo está haciendo en las comunas de Soacha, Colombia.

    Déjame decir por favor – estas niñas son poderosas. De sus voces resonantes contestando preguntas abiertas y complicadas sobre genero en la sociedad colombiana, a su pasión para jugar y su compromiso a las comunidades bonitas de Los Pinos y Bella Vista. Quizá poca gente se puede decir que estas áreas son ‘ricas’, pero de mi punto de vista, habiendo aprendido y trabajado con las Niñas y otros líderes de organizaciones alrededor Soacha, yo puedo asegurar que hay muchisimas riquezas en efecto allí.

    En un momento en Colombia – igual en el mundo – cuando trabajando por nuestros miedos, abordando en diálogos con gente de perspectivas distintas, haciéndonos preguntas difíciles y incómodas, desafiando nuestras creencias aceptadas sobre nuestras vidas y mundos… parece oportuno, esencial y poético que este grupo de humanos se reunió. Y especialmente para las niñas, las mujeres, y cualquier humano que se ha sentido [email protected] o [email protected] por una sociedad que aprendió a tener miedo de incertidumbre.

    Me siento otra vez tan honrada para compartir espacio y tiempo, y para elevar colectivamente la conciencia con un grupo de líderes tan inspiradores en Colombia. Gracias a nuestra alianza con Postobón, Nike Colombia, y nuestros aliados locales como Niñas sin Miedo, se nos ha regalado oportunidades a reír, bailar, jugar, y profundizar qué significa ‘igualdad de genero’ y qué  vamos a hacer, personalmente y colectivamente, para llegar a un futuro más justo.

    Cuando las personas unen energías, particularmente personas de diferentes historias, ambientes, deportes, y todos los factores que contribuyen a [email protected] [email protected], yo creo – apasionadamente – que esto es cuando la magia de creación está soltada. También creo que [email protected] con este grupo de individuos y organizaciones diversas de todo Bogotá durante una semana en Mayo 2017, que aprovechamos esa magia y creamos algo que puede trascender fronteras, paredes, culturas dañosas, y sí, el miedo.

    Estas Niñas sin Miedo me han inspirado a vivir más allá de mis miedos – y me siento tan emocionada para escuchar a sus voces resonando alrededor del mundo.

  • Planting Self-Directed Learning Seeds in The Garden City

    June 5th 2017. CAC Global Citizen JK Cho writes about working with Rescue Sports Foundation in Kumasi, Ghana.

    Growing up obsessed with superhero comics, one of my favorite characters was “Mimic” from the X-Men who possessed the power of learning other superheroes’ powers instantly.  I was fascinated by the limitlessness and versatility of Mimic to any problematic situations.  Self-Directed Learning is not exactly about copying somebody’s ability quickly but is similar to Mimic’s ability in that it’s not limited to a single skill, but it’s a skill of learning to cope with the constantly changing environment.  A Self-Directed Learner can resist the bias against doing new things, continuously scan the horizon for solutions and opportunities, and push oneself to acquire radically different capabilities.

    CAC believes installing a Self-Directed Learning mind is the most effective and sustainable way to bring social change rather than teaching a single life-skill to a student or bringing a limited amount of resources to a developing community.  CAC strategically teams up with local charities that maintain networks with local teachers and community leaders.  CAC trains them how to help their own students become Self-Directed Learners.  The training is mostly of using games of football.  CAC uses football as a teaching vehicle because it’s universally transportable to any culture and also because it’s fun.  When something is fun, people open their mind and ready to soak it all in.  Thus, children play games of football and organically become Self-Directed Learners.  I have faith in the cause and how CAC is doing it and decided to join the Global Citizen volunteer program to Ghana, Malawi, and Kenya during the summer.

    The team Ghana consists of me as a Global Citizen and the two other veteran coaches: Jordan from U.K. and Oti from Kenya.  We met on Saturday in Accra, the capital of Ghana and left for our first destination, Kumasi.  Kumasi means the Garden City.  When Ghana was colonized by Great Britain (1867 – 1957), Queen Elizabeth visited Kumasi and named so because of its many beautiful species of flowers and plants.  When we arrived in the town, our charity partner, Rescue Sports, warmly welcomed us and provided a great accommodation.  The training venue was a very notable private senior high school called Prempeh College.  We could not ask more in terms of the training equipment that they arranged and their respect towards the coaches.  We spent Sunday making a game plan for the week and getting familiar with the neighborhood where we stayed.  We immediately discovered that there were so many churches around, and it is an extremely important attribute in their lives.  We anticipated that we would have to be careful and work around the strong religious lifestyle to bring social change to the community without serious adverse reaction.

    My very first social impact coaching session began on the next day with 23 participants.  Among them, three were disabled teachers.  Going into the coaching session, we were expecting 60 participants to show up. However,  during the week there was another social event for the same demographics, which inevitably split the potential participants.  On the field, my first impression was that the participants were very shy although they could hardly hide their feelings of friendliness and curiosity.  The weather was brutally hot and humid, and it took not that long to roast my skin and spirit that were not used to the African sun and heat.  I thought California had a strong sun.  Following the lead by coach Jordan and Oti, I was able to manage to complete the first day of social impact coaching.  Although coaching is not my expertise, social responsibility and change management are something that I had been passionate and knowledgeable about.  I gave my best to support my team and facilitate the training session.

    As we proceeded with demonstrations of different games of addressing social issues such gender equity, child labor, conflict prevention, and health and wellness, the participants became more active and confident gradually.  I could see in their faces joy and excitement coming from the enlightenment towards a new way of “learning to learn” effectively and sustainably.  Each day after coaching session, we visited the participants’ schools and monitored/evaluated how they transferred to their children the knowledge that they gained from us.  It was amazing seeing the chains of social impact through the CAC’s impact model.  We estimated total 2292 children (608 girls/ 1684 boys) in Kumasi would benefit from our coaching session.  On the final day, the participants were asked to create their own games and demonstrate them in front of the coaches and other participants.  I was surprised how well the participants understood the purpose and dynamics of the curriculum and how creative they designed their games.  It was my aha moment – “yes, this thing is working!”.

    It was bitter-sweet on Saturday when we left Kumasi.  For the 7 days in Kumasi, we built an incredible friendship with the participants and Rescue Sports and suffered from endless diarrhea caused by trying many different exotic foods.  I wanted to stay longer in the beautiful Garden City, but we had to move on to the next location to discuss Self-Directed Learning.  Above all, I was happy that the first-week coaching went successful and excited to do better as a coach in the following week.  Additionally, as an MBA graduate, I was thinking in the bus to the next location what I could do to make this impact even bigger and how I could contribute to making U.S. corporations involved in this meaningful work.

  • From Buckingham Palace to Gomoa Palace

    June 2nd 2017. CAC’s Jordan Stephenson blogs on working with Gomoa Sport for Change in Gomoa, Ghana.

    This week the training took place in a tribal village of Gomoa Benso within the Central Region of Ghana. The partner we are working with is Gomoa Sport for Change who are based in a government school and specialize in Football, Handball, Volleyball and Athletics. Among the team from CAC was  myself, JK (one of our Global Citizens this summer) and Oti (a legend within the CAC community and a Community Impact Coach for the Ghana partners this year).

    Upon arrival we were welcomed by the Queen Mother of Gomoa at the Palace where we would be staying. She sent her apologies that the Chief was out of the country and therefore would not be able to welcome us personally. Within the Palace there were staff to cook our Ghanaian traditional food (fu-fuo and banku were our particular favorites), the family of the chief and the queen mother as well as ourselves. It was tough to get a moments rest as after two minutes of arriving back at the palace we have dozens of children outside of our room wanting to hang out with us!

    The day before the training we were taken to watch an FA Cup 4th round match between local team Proud United FC and national giants Ashanti Ktoko, we were hoping to see a giant killing game typical of that of the English FA Cup however that was not to be the case. For the second half we stood next to a commentator for a National Radio Station: Accra FM and he asked myself and Oti to be pundits and comment on the key moments of the game, which was something we grabbed at the chance to do! The experience of exiting the stadium whilst negotiating our way past the disappointed and frantic home supporters was something I will never forget – somehow it is always the referee’s fault!

    During the training we had a combination of coaches and teachers as well as Mr Afried who is the Director of Physical Education within the Ministry of Education for the region of Gomoa Central who has jurisdiction over 250 schools. He was very interested in the work we were doing and will subsequently write a report of his findings to share with the Director of Education – a great advocate of the use of sport for social impact within physical education.

    A big highlight of the training was delivering on Thursday when we showed that being exposed to the elements (heavy heavy rain) was no obstacle for playing sport and being active; especially in a country which has a rainy season lasting for 7 months!!

    A big focus of the training was looking at traditions, and which traditions have been in place for a long period of time which hold the community back. Therefore it seemed quite ironic that we were staying with the Chief and Queen mother (the cultural leaders of the community) at the palace, whilst at the same time asking what they thought the impact of having cultural leaders was on their society.

    The training was a success and resulted in more coaches and teachers who are highly motivated and upskilled to start to be an agent for social change through sport; whilst being supported by Gomoa Sport for Change who can support them to achieve community change.

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