Creating Traditions of Woman-Power with Refugees in Jordan
November 13th 2017. Global Citizen, Ian Phillips, joined us on-field to work with our new ASK for Choice partner, Reclaim Childhood, and their coaches from Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan and Egypt.
It’s 5am in Amman, Jordan. The first few tentative rays of light are making their way through the night sky. The stillness in the air is broken by the Muslim call to prayer, and the sound echoes across the hilltops, down in to the valleys, and makes its way to my window. The chants are haunting, and beautiful, but did I mention that it’s 5am? The call to prayer rings out from mosque to mosque five times a day and, like the sound that echoes throughout the city, the influence of Islam is pervasive here. It can be heard, seen, and felt in the streets. While this influence manifests itself in many positive ways – such as the kindness, warmth, hospitality and generosity that I witnessed every day, it’s also fair to say that the traditional attitudes many people associate with this part of the world create significant challenges for the women and girls who live here.
We’re here in Jordan to work with a local NGO called Reclaim Childhood, an organization that uses sport to empower and educate girls. Often, the practices and leagues set up by Reclaim Childhood represent the only opportunity these girls have to leave their house in order to play, exercise, express themselves, and learn important lessons in a safe space. Their all-female staff and coaches are courageous, intelligent, empathetic, compassionate – and inspirational. The highlight of the week was having the opportunity to visit the coaches in action – and seeing a field full of smiling, happy, vibrant young girls. This, more than anything, shows that the efforts of Reclaim Childhood’s brave coaches are worthwhile, and that their programs are having a positive impact.
The week of training in Amman was an amazing experience. The CAC coaches and myself were able to work with a group of people who are passionate, thoughtful, and genuinely dedicated to creating positive change in their respective communities. I’m grateful for the chance to get On-Field with CAC, and to meet some of the local partners who make this work so worthwhile.
Working Towards Equality with Refugees in the Middle East
November 10th 2017. CAC Self-Directed Learning coach and Sustainability Strategist Jordan Stephenson discussed our first ever program in Beirut, Lebanon with ANERA.
This week Ian, Nora and I traveled to Beirut, Lebanon to work with our partner ANERA.
The setting for our week was on the coast of the Mediterranean surrounded by large boulders protecting the land from the sea. The length of the training was longer than what I have previously experienced which allowed us to go deeper with the work and allow for more discussions and opportunity for learning to take place.
ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) work across the Middle East providing support and opportunities for refugee communities. Our role was to facilitate learning with the coaches and coordinators and ANERA’s sport team which brought 25 people from across the country to a central location for the training. The week was so eye-opening to be able to learn from individuals who have found themselves in situations they did not chose and were able to channel their energy into helping others. My mind has been opened to what it might be like to live in a refugee community, especially those who were born in the country yet still do not have the same rights as nationals, restricting their ability to travel, work, and access education. The idea of equality is something which is often sought; however, in reality it is not practiced through discriminatory policy, laws, and culture which prevents refugees being able to choose their futures in such an uncertain part of the world.
CAC are in a unique position to work alongside individuals who are actively trying to achieve equality within the community and we’re lucky enough to bring individuals together and create a large network of individuals and organizations through an overriding strategy to contribute heavily towards the development of a better world.
Many participants identified this training as the best they’ve ever received as they were able to take practical learning away and begin to implement within their communities. Our partnership with ANERA has just started and the team are excited to partner with such a great organization over a sustained period of time. Through this partnership CAC will be able to support refugee communities to both integrate themselves within the communities they find themselves in, but also to allow individuals to reach their full potential.
As a city, Beirut is diverse and vibrant. This is a city which has faced so much turmoil over recent decades which, undoubtedly, has had an impact on society. The trip to the Middle East has been a fantastic experience allowing me to understand struggles within this area from my own eyes, not tinted from the eyes of media.
New Eyes on Ireland
October 25th 2017. Nora Dooley, CAC Gender Strategist, writes about the launch of our ASK for Choice partnership with Sports Against Racism Ireland (SARI).
I first visited Ireland while studying abroad in Dublin during college. I lived there for 5 months, went to class, traveled and spent time with extended family members – a heritage that affords me the privilege of having dual citizenship. Returning to this country that so honors my existence as to dub me ‘citizen’, I welcome reflections on what that word – that claim – means.
With CAC we have the unique opportunity to learn about communities through the eyes of people who live there – citizens. And in my experience our partners amplify the meaning of this legal or informal identifier. It is not enough for the CAC global community to simply live in a space, to exist, to benefit or endure. Citizens of CAC partner communities are people who engage, ask difficult questions, take personal and collective responsibility and hold themselves and each other accountable for the day-to-day, year-to-year realities – in all their beauty and complexity.
Our new partnership in Dublin added layers to my understanding of Irish citizenship, just as my presence in Ireland as a CAC representative provoked fresh gratitude for the chance to hold this space. With SARI leaders we shared our ASK for Choice curriculum which stimulated conversations around existing inequalities and created opportunities to strategize on and off the pitch around solutions to translate ideas and policies into practice.
The SARI team welcomed me into their community. They are Irish – and they are also Nigerian, Jordanian, Saudi Arabian, Zimbabwean, Kenyan, Indian, Congolese, Brazilian… and many more. They dwell in Dublin, they build inclusive spaces and they celebrate and thrive on diversity.
This is not the Dublin I experienced as a naive US American stumbling around a country I thought I had a claim to. I am grateful for my second passport, and because of SARI I feel closer than ever to understanding and truly appreciating what it means to be Irish; and because of all CAC partners, closer to realizing the potential of citizenship anywhere (legal or not!).
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 enseñad@ 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 marginad@ o discriminad@ 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 nosotr@s mism@s, yo creo – apasionadamente – que esto es cuando la magia de creación está soltada. También creo que junt@s 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.
Msimamo Standing Together
December 5th 2016. Blog post from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania by SDL Coach Emily Kruger and Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo about CAC partner program Msimamo.
“If you are motivated to do Sport for Development by money, then you will not make the biggest impact. Your priority must be developing the children and creating social change.” -Omari Mandari
This sentiment drives Msimamo, the sport for social impact club in Dar-es-Salaam founded by Coach Omari at his neighborhood field in 2010. He had been coaching at a local chapter of Right to Play (R2P), and when it was shut down in 2009, he decided that his dream of using sport for social impact to improve the lives of children would not die. He convinced R2P to provide him with just enough funding to get his own organization up and running. Now in 2016, between five different locations, there are over 1,000 girls and boys participating in weekly trainings, each with a modest field where four to five coaches come together to lead.
We had the great privilege of working with the leaders from Msimamo every morning for one week, learning about their philosophies and practices while also sharing some of ours at CAC. Turns out, we are in sync. Massive heart: check. Imagining a more equitable future: check. Laughter, dance moves, loud voices, open ears: check. And above all, believing in the potential of children to make positive choices for themselves and their community: MAJOR check.
Omari and his team of coaches are developing great players and even better humans. We witnessed them use games to spark conversations with 40 boys, ages 8-12, about the negative effects of alcohol and drugs, where the boys can go to get help if their rights are violated, and the importance of creating inclusive communities. The attention of these young boys was held during each game, during each talking point because the boys had an interactive role in the session. Omari, Amar, Ally, and the other coaches were not dictating what to do or what to say, but instead allowing the boys to share their thoughts and express their creativity. The coaches even encouraged peer leaders within the group of boys to take on more responsibility throughout the session; they told us after that they hope to soon have peer leaders leading games entirely!
True to the quote from Omari, there isn’t any money in this for these coaches; Msimamo is a passion project. But because most of them have very little formal education, they do not have formal employment during the day, making Msimamo a tough operation to sustain. But they have an idea: a waste collection business. All they need is a truck so they can personally remove, sort, and transport waste from their community to the Dar-es-Salaam dump before they spend their evening coaching. In his characteristically heroic nature, Omari envisions killing three birds with one stone: making their community cleaner and safer, supporting the livelihood of each volunteer coach (some of whom cannot afford to eat more than one meal a day), and continuing his program to educate and develop the children of the community. It is downright inspiring and invigorating to see coaches who have such a passion for their work with children that they are willing to do the most undesirable of jobs to ensure the survival of their program. CAC must continue to stand together with the Msimamo coaches as they give everything they’ve got to the present and future of their communities.
Getting Creative With Chevrolet
This week we have been delighted to bring our partnership with Chevrolet FC to Sudeva Sports in Delhi, India. Chevrolet recently built a full-size grass field for Sudeva. They are one of the biggest football academies in Delhi with some of the best sporting talent in the country. The new field will help Sudeva take their academy to the next level and continue their players physical and personal development. Chevrolet FC hosted an event in Delhi which brought Manchester United legend Quinton Fortune to Delhi to open the new field.
Excitement and hope are common emotions in Delhi. The sights, sounds and smells convey a sense of history, diversity, unpredictability and passion. This is constantly expressed in many ways including the incessant beeping of car horns and the mixing of innumerable spices to create delicious meals. During our time working with Sudeva we experienced these feelings on the sports field. Working with an energetic group of young men and women from Sudeva and another Delhi partner, Naz Goal, we saw their excitement in every game we played and felt their openness through high-fives, handshakes and the occasional fistbump. Most of all though we heard their belief in a community, city and country which has the ability to grow and develop into a hub for critical thinking, open-mindedness and tolerance through their words and laughter.
CAC attempts to create a space, using sport, where participants can safely discuss problems in their community and identify creative solutions to these problems. During this program, the group discussed issues such as gender equality, social inclusion and the environment (especially as the field was covered in smog after Diwali) which harm the economic and social development of their country. Towards the end of the week the young leaders were becoming adept at creating new sport for social impact games to address these issues with local youth. Following discussions with participants we prioritized our ASK for Choice female empowerment curriculum due to the troublingly high instances of discrimination against women in all walks of life in India. These games often prompted the most impactful discussions of the entire program. As Vicky, 1st team goalkeeper for Sudeva said, ‘Gender equality starts with us – ourselves, families, communities and up to our country and world.’
Thanks to Chevrolet FC, our work with Sudeva will allow their hopeful young leaders to sustainably use the new field to harness the creativity and passion of local children for social good. The safe space, energy, support and resources are there- now it is time to implement.