• My Return to Kenya

    July 11th, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Salim Blanden, writes about his experience working in Migori with Youth Empowerment through Sport, also known as YES Kenya.

    24th June 2017, on a sunny Saturday, my journey from Kampala to Kenya began. On the bus along with me was my colleague and first time ever Community Impact Coach, Nicholus Achimpota from Tanzania. I was so excited to learn I was going to spend the next five weeks on field with Nico. This would be my return to Kenya after running the first program in 2015 in Mbita, Homa Bay with Boychild Agenda.

    On the bus however, we missed our team leader from the USA, Mark Gabriel because of weakness due to a sickness. Mark stayed in Kampala and would travel the following day.

    Our on-field training with Youth Empowerment through Sports (YES) in Migori started immediately on Monday morning with about 30 participants from Migori, and some others from neighboring areas around Migori County.

    Due to Mark’s absence on-field, it was very clear myself and Nico would run the program on our own. This was therefore the first ever Community Impact Coach ran program. A participant said, “I enjoyed this program so much because I really see myself in you.” This showed the value and power of having a CIC led program. The experience was great because we managed to take charge and everyone believed in us. Mark also motivated and encouraged us throughout the whole week.

    This was an example that local coaches (Community Impact Coaches) can make an impact and run programs in different areas, independently and bring about positive social change in communities where they work.

    It was evident there was an impact created because of the cooperation of the participants. Especially with games reflecting gender equity, communication and fun, there was a message that CAC games and participants would continue bringing about positive change even when CAC has left the local area.

    The excitement I got from slaughtering chickens for our lunch on two separate occasions and the confidence I gained from running the program as only a CIC, made me forget the cold night we spent in Kisumu Town Roads before we traveled to Migori one early morning. This taught me a lesson in life, to never stop moving despite the different challenges on the road!

  • Welcomed into the Warm Heart of Africa

    July 5th 2017. Global Citizen JK Cho writes about working with the Banda Bola Foundation in Chituka Village, Malawi.

    In case you have ever asked yourself what the world would look like if people just be nice to each other, I got an answer: it would look a lot like Malawi.  With a nickname of The Warm Heart of Africa, Malawi is a tiny country located in Southern Africa.  Living up to its “notorious” nickname, Malawians are so friendly and loving they are known for always being willing to help family, friends, and even a stranger.  In fact, the welcomes, the meals, and the human interactions that I got here were so warm and earthy, and I certainly have been spoiled by them.  I mean I was going to do my laundry at the community well for the first time in a month.  And then a neighborhood guy on a bicycle sees me, stops on the road, throws his bicycle off, and starts helping me like my house just caught  fire.  It’s just another lovely day in Chituka village in Malawi.

    Chituka village is the hometown of CAC’s Malawi partner, Keni Banda and the Banda Bola Foundation.  Keni moved to the States from Malawi when he was 14.  And, he played and coached soccer professionally.  After decades of a successful coaching career in U.S. NCAA women’s soccer teams, Keni founded  Banda Bola Foundation in 2010 and launched Chituka Village Project to bring social changes in his hometown area in Malawi.  As much as he has an inspiring and passionate personality, breaking into chants of “Solve Your Problem!” and “Let’s Figure It Out!” multiple times a day, he is also a funny and kind guy like your typical favorite uncle.  His family in Malawi are all deeply involved in social impact as well.  His sister, Sekani, is a board member of Banda Bola Foundation and an aspiring social worker.  Her two sons, Manyanda and Patici are also passionate about social entrepreneurship.  I thought it was very interesting that Manyanda is a social impact music producer going into rural villages with artists, listening to the village people’s issues, and turning them into beautiful songs (Check out Amplified Movement – Bring Them Back on YouTube).  The Banda family provided incredible cooperation, food, accommodation, and friendship during the two-week schedule in Malawi.

    Team Malawi was comprised of two amazing veteran coaches, Charlie C. and  Ashlyn, and two Global Citizens including Charlie O. and me.  Besides me, they all were collegiate soccer players.  After their athletic careers, they joined CAC to contribute to making the world a better place, using soccer as a messenger.  Although they sometimes made a fun of my soccer skill, I loved the team very much for making such good balance and harmonious vibes.  Charlie O. even suffered from Malaria in the first week, but he completed the schedule with a smile on his face the whole time.  When we arrived at Malawi, it didn’t take us more than two days to find out that corruption and power abuse are the major social issues that Malawi had been facing.  Radio and newspapers constantly reported about corrupted politicians and nonsensical policies.  People gave a sigh of resignation about losing precious natural resources to foreign corporations as well as jobs to those who got power and connections.  Limited access to education coming from poverty also seemed to be a serious and urgent issue.  The CAC team and Banda Bola Foundation agreed to focus on addressing those issues during the training sessions, with openness to listen to participants own social concerns.

    We spent the first week getting familiar with Chituka village and trying to get accepted by the people.  Chituka village is located right by the beautiful Lake Malawi, surrounded by majestic, evergreen mountains.  The area is very underdeveloped, and most of the people there walk around barefoot and live without electric power.  First, we met a grand chief lady who oversees about 60 local chiefs’ daily responsibilities.  The “zenness” emitted by her was truly amazing.  She warmly welcomed us, and it was one of the coolest moments of my life.  After that, we visited one of the primary schools where Chituka Village Project originated from.  We hung out with the current students who would be benefiting from our program for the next 3 years and got inspired by their innocence and simplicity.  Finally, we had a meeting with about 20 local chiefs to discuss what CAC and Banda Bola were trying to bring to the community.  It was interesting that some of the chiefs were having a hard time understanding the significance of adopting sustainable solutions.  They wanted an immediate help with food, clothes, and money rather than long-term solutions such as implementing Self-Directed Learning skill.  It was like we were trying to teach how to catch fish, dried them to save, and sell the rest at the market, but they just wanted fish.  After a long discussion, the meeting ended well, and the chiefs officially welcomed us.  I will never forget the moment when a prince said, “Now, you are one of us.  Don’t be afraid of exploring our village.  You are one of us, and we will take care of you.”

    The training week was fantastic.  We had 64 participants from 33 organizations, which was considerably more than I had expected.  Not only that, it was remarkable that 19 of them were female, marking about 30% of the total participants.  The participant mix consisted of local teachers, sports coaches, social workers, and volunteers.  We delivered lots of games related to gender equity as well as child rights and democratic conflict resolution style (anti-corruption).  The participants quickly understood the program and started using their voices to express their own colorful opinions.  Keni supported the participants not only by providing an amazing training venue, great snacks, and transportation money but also inspirational speeches.  At the end of the training week, I observed participants embracing the importance of Self-Directed Learning and looking to incorporate it into their teaching practices.  We estimated a total of 4346 children (2129 girls and 2217 boys) would benefit from the program immediately.  Moreover, we anticipated a lot of these girls and boys would become Bonda Bola Foundation volunteers after graduation and transfer the impact to younger children, multiplying our impact radically in future years.

    One of the random facts that I came across when I did research on Malawi was that, out of Madonna’s 6 children, four of them are adopted, and all of the singer’s adopted kids were from Malawi.  She also has put on many concerts and events to raise global awareness towards Malawi’s social issues.  After experiencing Malawi for 2 weeks, I now could understand why the singer has been so married to this tiny country: Malawians are incredibly loving and warm-hearted.  The capacity of their love is so big that I want to have them around me all the time.  Well, although I’m not a superstar singer, I now have a Malawian family in Chituka village.  Hoping to come back to this beautiful place some day, I said goodbye to the warm heart for now and departed for Kenya.

  • A Year in Review 2016

    June 6th 2017. Coaches Across Continents is extremely proud to release our 2016 Year in Review.  Our partnerships on six continents with corporations, foundations, governments, and community-based organizations have created sustainable legacies in hundreds of communities impacting millions of children, and address the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

    We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our partners, our various Boards and Teams who advise us, the large number of Global Citizens who assist us throughout the year, and most importantly the coaches and organizations On-Field who create legacies in their communities through our sport for development partnerships.

    If you are interested in having your corporation or foundation partner with CAC to Design, Develop, and Implement a sustainable legacy anywhere in the world, please contact us at .

    To become a Global Citizen email us at .

    If your community based organization would like to request partnership please contact .

    Please enjoy reading, we look forward to hearing from you!

    CAC-Annual-Report-2016_FINAL_HighRes

  • Spreading the Love

    May 18th 2017. CAC’s Ashlyn Hardie writes about her first week On-Field in Harare, Zimbabwe with the Sports and Recreation Commission.

    For months now I have been working part time for CAC, taking care of all social media outlets, newsletters, and posting the blogs from everyone else’s travel adventures. Finally, after months of build up to my first trip on-field as a CAC employee, I am able to post a blog about my very own personal experiences! Although this trip is the first of many experiences for me, I can already tell it will be incredibly unique.

    Our partners, Sports and Recreation Commission of Zimbabwe, have put us up at the guest lodge of Prince Edwards High School. This all boys boarding school is incredibly well known in Zimbabwe for producing the highest quality athletes, and giving a wide range of opportunities for their students to succeed in their future endeavors. Not only this, but the campus stands as a little patch of peace and beauty in the heart of the noise and commotion of Harare. Within hours of being on campus it seemed as though we had made so many new friends. The hospitality from every single Prince Edwards staff member was more than Emily and myself could have asked for. Teachers that we had met would swing by our place to walk us to meals at the dinning hall, offer to drive us to the store, took us to a professional game, and answered all of the many questions we had about life in Zim. Our partners at SRC and the people of Prince Edwards made us feel at home from the moment we arrived.

    The program this week took place at the PE training field, approximately 30 yards from our bedroom windows. It could not have been a better scenario for us to be able to walk out of our rooms, and onto the field! Plus that’s the dream right? Living spitting distance from a soccer pitch?

    Although the people of Zim are all raised speaking Shona, they all also learn English in school. This absolutely minimized our communication barriers, which made for a relaxing, smooth week with our participants. Being able to truly hear how they felt, and sense what they thought about certain topics without a translator gave us a more genuine feel for how these coaches interpreted the social issues in Zimbabwe. I had never seen the up close CAC on-field conversations before this week, but it is hard for me to imagine having them go much better. Some of the stand out conversations from the week were about child’s rights, female empowerment, environmental issues, and an incredibly controversial conversation about HIV education and our game titled “Condom Tag”.

    It was clear that throughout the week these 40 humans from different places and backgrounds were growing together and really digging in to discuss the issues that are sweeping over their communities. As much as I would love to highlight those talking points for anyone who reads this, I think it is more important to share how it felt to be in the presence of those conversations. I was not one hundred percent on how the games would work, and what they would provoke in person, but they exceeded my expectations. There were moments where you could see a lightbulb pop off above someone’s head, where they realized exactly how to convey this message to their kids, moments when you could feel the passion people had for their youth and communities from the tone of their voice. There were moments, not one but many, where I found myself contemplating the differences between my life at home and the lives of those I have come to know and appreciate here in Zim.

    The people of Zim are faced with governmental corruption, poverty, a lack of resources for their teams, and other ongoing hardships on a daily bases. Through this they walk with smiles. These coaches are working with minimal resources for their kids, and still are willing to give everything they have to make their communities a better place. Even those hosting us, have their own struggles, yet have done everything they can do to help us get around the city and feel welcomed. Writing this makes me think of all of those walking the planet who have everything but find themselves unhappy or unfulfilled. I think there is much to be said about the people of Zim, how they approach adversities, how they work and learn to be the best for the future generations, and how they walk with smiles even in hard times.

    I have spent my life loving the game of soccer, knowing what it did for me, and watching it change the lives of people around me. Here, thousands of miles away from home, I watch it do the same. This first week solidifies all the reasons that I took this job, and all the excitement I have moving forward in my time with CAC. At the end of our week one participant stood up and thanked us. He thanked us for coming in and making them feel comfortable, like equals, and like their voice mattered. My immediate response was to thank him too, because these people Harare took in two goofy white girls from the United States of America and hosted us with respect, kindness, and laughter. Soccer is not just a game. It is a lifestyle, a teacher, and a hope. Soccer is love. And on that note, I am happy to say I have 6 more weeks of this trip to keep on spreading it!

     

  • Gender: Zooming in and out as We Search for Equality

    May 5, 2017. Nora Dooley shares thoughts after her visit with long-time partners ACER Brasil in Diadema for the fifth year of programming and first year of ASK for Choice.

     

    What does it mean to be a man? To do something ‘like a man’? To be ‘masculine’?
    What about a woman? Female? Feminine?

    As the lines between genders blur and we begin to understand the origins of these identities, we become better equipped to recognize, question, and challenge expectations, norms, traditions, and cultures that limit us – whoever we are, whatever we call ourselves.

    But…

    While the smashing of labels and boxes that contain us sends a powerful message to any who dare assume our strengths, abilities, and vulnerabilities – our wants, needs, and fears – solely based on what body we are born to… can those same labels serve a collective, more equal future? And if we use those labels to empower us – to put language to injustice and call out oppressing forces – how do we strike the balance between the ideal and the real? How do we walk and breathe equality in a vastly unequal reality?

    These are some of the complex questions we explored on the futsal court last week in Diadema where we have worked for several years with our partners, ACER Brasil.

    Through almost 50 different games and activities we moved together as a group of humans, each with our own individual experiences and visions, towards a tangible, practical, and sustainable goal. We navigated the existing issues and climates that contribute to the realities people in Brazil (and the rest of the world!) are faced with each day, and emerged through this complicated, sometimes blinding, fog with a fresh sense of possibility.

    This group of women and men from different communities, and with nearly 50 years of life between some, welcomed me for the second consecutive year into their space. They offered me their time, ideas, voices, ears, kindness, hugs, and willingness to march together for a future where all of us have access, knowledge, and opportunities to make the choices that will serve our personal and collaborative aims. I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to build on this rich partnership, introducing and tasting new ASK for Choice flavors, and sharing this inspiring and creative environment with the ACER team and our other valuable partners.

    In the final days we made commitments to ourselves and to each other to continue asking ‘Why?’ and to move with clear eyes from the ‘What?’ to the ‘How?’. We played, laughed, danced, discussed, dug deep, reflected, and created. I leave Brazil eager to watch and listen as these leaders bring policies to life in their communities and beyond.

    Obrigada, Diadema! Eu Vou…

  • PASIÓN HECHA ACCIÓN

    April 25, 2017. Community Impact Coach Daniela writes about experience traveling with CAC to Ecuador to work with partners Futbol Mas

    Passion Made Action

    Mi nombre es Daniela Gutierrez y con una experiencia única, en Perú y Ecuador; agradezco a Coaches Across Continents, que gracias a su programa CIC tuve la oportunidad de vivir 3 semanas inolvidables; donde compartí aprendizajes invaluables junto a cada persona, que me motivan siempre a seguir aprendiendo y compartiendo.

    My name is Daniela Gutierrez and with a unique experience in Perú and Ecuador I am grateful to CAC. Thanks to their CIC program I had the opportunity to live 3 unforgettable weeks where I shared invaluable knowledge with each person, and which motivated me to always continue learning and sharing.

    Ecuador-Guayaquil fue especial; porque vi niños participando de nuestro programa, profes de otras provincias que llegaron con tanta energía y esos deseos de cada uno, por compartir. Me gusto ver como exploraban su talento transformándolo en grandes ideas, creando juegos y dinámicas increíbles, el ultimo día todos y todas estabamos emocionados, agradecidos, orgullosos de seguir en la misma sintonía. Sé que se fueron con ganas de más, de seguir compartiendo en sus comunidades y generando impacto social. Solo sé que el gran equipo de Futbol más Ecuador seguirá contribuyendo en este proceso, generando más oportunidades para todo Ecuador.

    Guayaquil, Ecuador was special because I saw youth participating in our program, teachers from other provinces that arrived with so much energy and the desire from each one to share. I loved to see how they explored their talent, transforming it into great ideas, creating games and incredible activities. On the last day everyone was emotional, grateful, and proud to continue to the same tune. I know that they all left with the urge for more, to continue sharing in their communities and creating social impact. I just know that the great team of Fútbol Más Ecuador will continue contributing to this process, generating more opportunities for all of Ecuador.

    Recuerdo aquel 2014, mi primer año con CAC en Perú; desde entonces soy un agente de cambio social, utilizando como herramientas potentes juego y deporte; creando espacios donde cada vivencia se trasforme en una experiencia significativa. Logrando que las personas seas protagonistas de los cambios en sus comunidades y en sus propias vidas; buscando igualdad de oportunidades para todos y todas (‘todos somos impacto social’).

    I remember in 2014, my first year with CAC in Perú. Since then I have been an agent for social change, using sport and play as powerful tools; creating spaces where every experience is transformed into something significant. Achieving that people are protagonists for change in their communities and in their own lives; searching for equality of opportunities for everyone – ‘we are all social impact’!

    Siento personalmente la necesidad interminable de seguir aprendiendo siempre de los demás, cada persona es un mundo lleno de tanto, involucrándome, teniendo la convicción que no hay límites para seguir aprendiendo y que nunca debo parar. Sueño que en 2020 más y más personas alrededor del mundo, transformen su pasión en acciones que nos permitan construir un mundo mejor.

     I feel personally the unending need to always continue learning from others; that every person is a world full of so much, including me, and having the conviction that there are no limits to learning and that I should never stop. I dream that in 2020 more and more people around the world transform their passion into actions that allow us to build a better world.