I’m big on creating goals, but I’ve never been big on creating New Year’s resolutions. I guess I feel like if you really want to accomplish something you should start right now, don’t wait for a new year. However, this year our team has really made an effort to create timelines, long-term goals, and fundraising plans for our various projects. I think mostly this is because of the amazing team we have built – a few of us paid but many more volunteers – who are all committed to seeing our projects become successful (and who help us stay organized!).
Our model is simple but our avenues tend to be bold. We don’t always wait for the grant to be awarded or for the perfect time to take a trip to visit our refugee friends. We just do it. And this year, you will see our team forge ahead and hit key milestones for a few of our projects. Here’s a sneak peak (of just a few of our programs):
|First Little Ripples Center to Open: We start the pilot phase with 351 Little Ripples (children ages 3 to 5) in refugee camp Goz Amer. We have assembled an amazing team of Expert Teacher Advisors who will train and guide refugee teachers in the creation and implementation of a new innovate program that not only teaches the foundations of reading and writing, but focuses on peace-building and trauma recovery. We hope to continue to launch Little Ripples Centers until more than 8,000 students are touched. Long term goal? This program becomes a model that can be applied in emergency situations throughout the world.|
|First Darfur United Soccer Academy Launched: Last year we helped Darfur United participate in the Viva World Cup in Iraqi Kurdistan, an almost impossible feat when we first discussed it. Surely this year we can reach our goal of launching the first Academy. We have the blueprint for skills & drills, health and hygiene, and a league. We have interested soccer coaches to train refugees. We even have consistent equipment and jersey donations rolling in. We are on the right track. Long term goal? To build a comprehensive program for boys and girls in every Darfuri refugee camp that leads to having both a men’s and women’s teams who play with a unique Darfuri style.|
Right to Education Mobile Human Rights Library
|Recreate the Right to Education Mobile Human Rights Library: The library in Camp Djabal was unfortunately destroyed in a fire. We must recreate it and also continue to supplement the library in Camp Goz Amer. So far, this is an all volunteer project supported by communities and individuals. Long term goal? Keep it stocked, bring new material, and just imagine an actual human rights library for every camp!|
100 Day Fast for Darfur
|It has been 10 years since the violence in Darfur started in 2003. For many, it has been 10 years of living in a refugee camp, or as one refugee called it, “an open prison.” Let us honor and commit to working for peace, protection, and justice for all Darfuris. Fast for a day or more, eat only refugee rations, or sponsor a faster between April 6 – July 14. Long term goal? Empower individuals and communities to act on behalf of our refugee friends by fostering a new culture of participation.|
We Are Up, Up and Away—Someone Pinch Us Please
by Gabriel Stauring, i-ACT
Somehow, the driver that took us to a ten minute meeting left and did not come back for forty-five. It was now less than two hours before departure for us and a team of refugees, all of them carrying temporary travel documents on their very first international flight. It was now, again, nervous time.
After about eight confusing phone calls, I was told that the driver was on his way to take us back to the UNHCR office, and we would then leave from there with the team. Not good. That could easily mean another forty five minutes. Instead, I suggested they grab the guys and meet us at the airport.
At the airport, it was slow going to get the boarding passes for everyone, but we were moving, and it was feeling not real. This is happening! READ MORE
Sound Off: Sulieman Reflects on the Journey
Sulieman, a natural leader on and off the field, reflects on the true meaning behind Darfur United and the impact of the previous eight weeks of training. The team is more than 16 people playing football (soccer), it is a family that has united camps, tribes, and cultures.
A View From the Hospital
by Alex Nuttall-Smith, DU Medical Trainer
The first Viva World Cup match for Darfur United is tomorrow. I can sense the mounting excitement among the Darfur United players and coaches.
We have settled quickly, after only two days, into a routine of practices, team meals, and medical treatments. The tournament organizers, hotel, and Kurdistan fans (who line up the watch practices) have shown the greatest hospitality toward Darfur United.
My hotel room has been labeled by the players as “the hospital.” After team meals and meetings, the players line up in my room for treatment. READ MORE
Exhausting. Up at 3:30am and out at the camp by 5. The players were all already up and getting ready for the trip to N’Djamena, for sure the farthest any of them have been from home.
Two players, Mohamed and Mohamed, had to leave earlier than the others because we could not all fit into one plane. They were nervous and talked to me, wanting to know why they were not traveling with the team. I explained and assured them everything would be alright. The older Mohamed thanked me and said that they wanted to talk with me because they could trust me. They feared that they were being sent home and would not be with the team on the journey. My only worry was that they would not be flying straight to the capital but would be making a stop in the scary Abeche airport. I’ve been through that airport dozens of times, and I still stress every time because it is crowded and pushy and a bit unhinged. It’s one of a kind.
As soon as they landed in Abeche…. Read more here.
Refugee Camp Djabal, Eastern Chad (April 13, 2012) — Darfur United, an all refugee soccer team from Darfur, announced its roster, after a week of try-outs and trainings in a refugee camp close to the Chad-Sudan border. This effort was organized by a small non-profit based in Redondo Beach, CA and coached by EVO Soccer Programs owner and Manhattan Beach Sand and Surf Soccer Club Director of Coaching, Mark Hodson.
Sixty-one players from the twelve refugee camps that dot the Chad-Sudan border participated in try-outs for fifteen spots on the team roster. This team will represent Darfur, the embattled region of Sudan, in the 2012 Viva World Cup in June, a soccer tournament for nationless people and other groups not represented by FIFA, the international soccer federation.
Coach Mark Hodson said, “The level of talent was impressive, especially considering the facilities and resources available to the players. Everyone came ready to play, and they didn’t need asking twice to produce their best level of effort.”