• Impacting 1 to Impact 100’s – Coaches Across Continents in Uganda

    Meet Douglas from Pader, Uganda

    July 9th, 2012:  Many of these blogs are about moments that surprise us on our travels around the world. Moments when a coach in a program does something more than we expected, or succeeds in ways we hadn’t expected. But some of our participants are not surprising at all. They ooze leadership from the moment we meet them. And it’s just as important to know about these folks as the ones that surprise us.

    Three days from the end of our two-week stay in the Northern Ugandan town of Pader, we headed off to a local primary school with about forty teenagers from Friends of Orphans (FRO), a local vocational school that focuses on educating and rehabilitating teens. We were asking our young coaches to run a session at the primary school, which is a tall order because the school has over one thousand students, and more than ten percent are physically disabled in some way. But Douglas Ibrahim showed up with a training top tucked tightly into black dress pants. And he carried a whistle. You don’t bring a whistle to a session with a few hundred schoolchildren without knowing what you’re going to do with it. Douglas had planned ahead. When we asked what games to play with the kids, he had a roster of suggestions. When we got started, he stepped to the center and delivered clear instructions in Acholi, the local language. I wasn’t sure what he was saying, but the kids’ behavior soon told me, as they executed

    Sophie ran a one week ‘Girls Only’ program.

    games we had taught Douglas and his classmates over the past two weeks: darting in and out of the circle of friends, executing warm-up exercises and clasping hands and shouting their names when they reached the other side; walking, then pretending to dribble, through a series of ball skills developed from the famed Christiano Ronaldo; and explaining a hopping exercise that asked players to leap to pre-designated spots numbered one through four. Douglas even finished with a brief explanation about why it is important to warm-up before working hard in the hopping exercise, exhibiting information he had learned from a conversation on this subject during the previous week. Several of his fellow students helped, following Douglas’ lead, repeating his instructions and demonstrations to individual children. Some of these classmates had not been very attentive during our training sessions, but clearly having Douglas at the helm motivated them and gave them confidence to run the session. The Coaches Across Continents staff didn’t say a word. We merely watched. And then we played, pulled into the session by the most intriguing element of Douglas’ leadership: the whistle. He used it whistle lightly, barely blowing into it. The feeble sound wasn’t commanding, as most whistles sound in training. It was supportive, almost congratulatory. It increased participation rather than decreasing it by being chastising. It lured all of us into playing the games and learning the lessons.

    Douglas Ibrahim had no previous experience in working with young children. An orphan by age thirteen, he was resettled near

    Coaches Across Continents Year 3 with FRO

    Pader five years ago, and put into an entirely foreign community, even an entirely new family. Ibrahim struggled at first, and his host community recommended him for FRO, which fully funds education for the marginalized youth it accepts. Life at FRO is regimented, but full of encouragement, and Douglas was nurtured by that encouragement. He became more appreciative of his new community, and now has been entrusted by them to develop a tree line to stem erosion in their farm fields. Besides his farming skills, Douglas is studying to be an auto mechanic and works nights as security for a local bank. He’s busy because he has a plan. He wants to save enough money to buy land and build a farm back in his original hometown, where he also wants to start a local football program for children. Douglas was a leader before he joined our Coaches Across Continents program, but his experience and personality helped make the program a success, just as we’re sure he’ll use our games and messages (along with his friendly whistle) to run a youth soccer organization that develops leaders on and off the field.

  • Meet our Partner Programs in Uganda

    Meet Kampala School of Excellence Ministries
    1. What is your name and what is your organization? Ntale Daniel Kiseka and am the founder of Kampala School Of Excellence Ministries

    2. What is the biggest message you try to teach your kids through the game of soccer?  Our main answer with football is to teach goal setting because we believe that it helps one succeed in life. We believe that participation in sports gives a child fun, practical and active way to learn about goal setting.

    3. Who is your favorite soccer team? CHELSEA Football Club
    4. If you could meet any famous soccer person in the world, who would it be and why?
    Didier Drogba, I would feel so great seeing a blood brother succeeding in life to famous world.

    5. What is the thing you are looking forward to most about working with Coaches Across Continents? 

    With the help of working with your organization, a number of our trained coaches have become more engaged with their teams while helping them to steward each player towards a positive outcome, such as going to or playing in college or beyond.

    Meet Buwate Youth Sports Academy

    1. What is your name and what is organization? My names are KATO RICHARD SSEBUNYA. THE ORGANIZATION IS BUWATE YOUTH SPORTS ACADEMY.
    2. What is the biggest message you try to teach your kids through the game of soccer?
    HIV/AIDS awareness, social Development, and to keep out of Drugs
    3. What is your favorite soccer team?
    4. If you could meet any famous soccer person in world , who would it be?
    BECKHAM AND MARTA THE FEMALE so that I can tell them about our organization. 
    5. What is best thing about working with Coaches Across Continents?
    To gain knowledge and to promote our organization.

    Meet Friends of Orphans (FRO)

    1. What is your name and what is your organization? My name is Anywar Ricky Richard and the name of my organization is call Friends of Orphans.

    2. What is the biggest message you try to teach your kids through the game of soccer?

    Friends of Orphans runs games and sports program to help in peace building and reconciliation among the people of northern Uganda who have been at war for over 21 years. FRO supports many different games and sports teams in northern Uganda through training, supplies of games and sports equipments and holds games and sports competitions, which draws teams from many different communities – this encourages interaction and engenders a sense of community. FRO trains peace builder’s educators – who are able to instruct, educate and also monitor human rights’ violation – and community groups.

    3. Who is your favorite soccer team? Arsenal

    4. If you could meet any famous soccer person in the world, who would it be? Thierry Henry because he looks very humble and kind.

    5. What is the best thing about working with Coaches Across Continents? Bringing in well experienced coaches to work with Friends of Orphans. Also for using soccer as a way to mobilize communities to teach them in various aspects of developments.

  • A Letter from a former child soldier in Pader, Northern Uganda

    May 7th, 2012.  In response to Kony 2012, Ricky the founder of our partner FRO, wrote this objective letter to Coaches Across Continents

    Coaches Across Continents in Uganda

    I am writing from Pader, Uganda because I believe the recent conversation about Kony, the Lord’s Resistance Army and Invisible Children is not including the voice of those that matter most in this conversation – the people of Northern Uganda who have had their lives and families terrorized by the LRA. I know more than I would like to know about the LRA, not from watching Kony 2012 or reading insightful accounts of the conflict, but because personally I have seen it, have lived it and have been in it. I was one of the now famous “child soldiers”. I was abducted at the age of 14 years with my brother by the LRA and remained with them for nearly 2.5 years. We were picked up in front of our home, our powerless family members were burned to death in our grass-thatched house while we were forced to watch and hear them cry for help. I saw brutality beyond description; I saw tortures, rapes, killing, abduction and war. Since 1999, through Friends of Orphans I have worked to rehabilitate countless former child soldiers and others affected by the war to reverse the massive amount of damage the LRA has done to my community and our youth. I know for real how bad the LRA rebels are and I demand for the immediate end to this conflict. I believe for this to happen, OUR voices must be heard.

    At this moment, more than ever, the optimism and hope of the people in northern Uganda for the end of violent conflict and return of peace in the region is more prominent than ever. This is a direct outcome of the protracted negotiation that previously took place in southern Sudan. Even though the peace talks headed by Riek Machar did not result in a peace agreement between the LRA and the government of Uganda, it has brought relative peace to Northern Uganda and people have moved back to their original villages from the refugee camps, at least for now there is no Joseph Kony in Uganda.

    I support the peaceful means of ending this conflict rather than the military approach. I encourage it continually since it has brought tangible results and has saved many lives that would have been otherwise lost to the war. The people of Northern Uganda believe more in a peaceful means of resolving this conflict because it has been tried and it has worked, they have seen the result.

    Invisible Children are known in Northern Uganda as a scholar organization supporting former abductees education, which much needed in the region. But they are not known as a peace building organization and I do not think they have experiences with peace building and conflict resolution methods. I totally disagree with their approach of military action as a mean to end this conflict. Since 1989 the government of Uganda has been consistently used military campaigns against Kony including major operations like operation Iron Fist and Lightening Thunder. Operation Lightening Thunder was highly expected to end the war by either capturing Kony alive or killing him. This was carried out by UPDF (Uganda army), DR Congo army and the SPLA southern Sudan army on Kony in DR Congo with the technical support from the USA government and still it failed and instead spread the atrocities to Central African Republic as Kony relocated there. The only known result of the military attacks on Kony is dispersing the rebels into smaller groups from their base resulting in all kinds of atrocities on civilians including the Baralonyo attack in Lira district, (http://ugandaradionetwork.com/a/story.php?s=34980) the Kanga Pa-aculu attack in Pader district and many others where a lot of civilians lost their lives. It is also well known that a majority of the LRA soldiers are abducted children, he uses these abducted children as a shield to protect himself from any military attacks, as a result any attack will be on the abducted children.

    Now, how can this be done? Instead of campaigning for military action as a means to end this war, I suggest a continuation of the failed peace talks. I would urge everyone involved in the process to examine what made the peace talks fail and how can we improve and reinstate the process. As an example, the government of Sudan, a key player in the financing the war, was left out and not involved in the previous peace talks. I strongly believe they can play a greater role in the peace process.

    Furthermore, there seems to be a continual call for Kony to be taken to the ICC if captured. Communities agree that if Kony is captured he should be brought to book to answer for the war crimes he committed. Some want Kony to be taken to the ICC while others says he should be tried locally in Uganda so that it act as a lesion to others who would have bad intentions like that of Joseph Kony and bring closure for the communities affected. This becomes ever more complicated because others suggest that both parties involved in the war should be investigated and possibly tried too. People like Doctor Olara Otunnu, the president of Uganda People’s Congress, has written widely about the UPDF’s involvement in causing various atrocities during this conflict. The Government of Uganda has denied any wrong doing on its part. What is certain is that is not a simple problem that can be solved with a simple solution, this will inevitably require intervention in the form of a systematic approach in bringing Kony to book if reconciliation is to provide opportunities to all people affected by war and the wider communities to have a voice in peace building, reconciliation and societal healing. This will prepare the communities in Northern Uganda for subsequent rehabilitation with a view of shaping their immediate future through promotion of social inclusion and demonstrated ownership.

    Coaches Across Continents leader “Vidic’ in Pader

    What we want is to stop the war in a way that will not cause any more atrocities because the people of northern Uganda have shed too much blood from this war. We do not want to see more death and destruction in the process of ending the war. Nobody supports Kony in Northern Uganda; we are only tired of wars and now want to look at ways in which sustainable peace can be restored in northern Uganda without seeing more people dying.

    This brings me to my last point. We should also remember that the effect of the war is more painful than the war itself, so we need to think of more practical ways to rebuild and heal our community. We are now at the beginning of a long journey ahead. My vision is to build a Northern Ugandan society in which the vulnerable are empowered to achieve their full potential and contribute to the development of their community. In 1999 I founded Friends of Orphans (www.frouganda.org) to work with former child soldiers, orphans, child mothers, war and HIV/AIDS affected and infected communities in Northern Uganda to rehabilitate, reintegrate and empower them. We provide education (both vocational and academic), health, peace building, human rights, income generating activities and livelihood support programs. FRO is now working to build a radio station to help give voice to the voiceless through radio communication. The goal of the radio station is to promote peace and human dignity throughout our area. Our aim is to ensure that the perspectives of the people whose lives are most affected by development (mainly the poor and marginalized) are included within decision-making. The aim is to use information to empower the disadvantage communities economically and fight poverty so as to improve on their standard of living and contribute to the development of their communities. Just as Invisible Children is doing, we are trying to amplify “the voice of the voiceless”, however instead of through social media, we just want to start with radio. To do so, we need the support of all those who now know what we have endured and will not stand for it.

    We thank Invisible Children for making you aware of what has happened in Northern Uganda and request they continue to focus their enthusiasm and resources toward building a better Uganda.

    Anywar Ricky Richard is a former LRA child soldier and founder of the charity organization Friends of Orphans (FRO) www.frouganda.org Ricky and FRO have been awarded the2008 Harriet Tubman Freedom Award and the 2008 Humanitarian Award from World of Children.



    Brief History of Friends of Orphans (FRO):

    Friends of Orphans (FRO) was founded and is administered by former child soldiers and abductees from Pader District, all of whom were and continue to be affected by the war in Northern Uganda. FRO founder Ricky Anywar Richard and others

    Seeing the smiles in Pader with Coaches Across Continents partner, FRO.

    conceived Friends of Orphans in 1999 when some of its organizing members were pursuing their degrees at the University of Makerere. From our experiences as former abductees and orphans, many of whom also lost immediate and extended family members, friends and neighbors, suffered displacement and continue to suffer those losses, led us to commit to the ongoing and unmet needs of our community.

    We formally prepared ourselves as educators, medical officers, administrators, environmentalists, and in other professions through university education and work experience to enable us to organize an organization with the vision and ability to meet the psycho-social, education and training, economic development, peace building, human rights, livelihood support programs and family service, cultural and social needs of children and women affected by conflict in Northern Uganda.

    Since 1999, we have launched community-based education, vocational skill training, HIV/AIDS prevention, peace building and community development programs in Northern Uganda which address the immediate and long term needs of the community, many of whom are former child soldiers, child mothers, orphans, youths and women.

    Friends of Orphans,

    P. O Box 29536, Kampala, Uganda.

    Tel: +256 772 383 574,

    E-Mail: ,

    Website: www.frouganda.org