June 9, 2010

World Cup Prep in Oyugis, Kenya!

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:17 am by kampala2capetown


2 days until the world cup…….

The first soccer world cup in Africa will begin this Friday in Johannesburg, where South Africa’s Bafana Bafana soccer team will be playing against Mexico.

Of all my trips to Africa this is surely one of the most remarkable, an opportunity for individuals and organizations across the African continent to use the world cup as a forum for developmental initiatives.

I arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport last Friday with a duffle bag filled with a 9”12 inch projector screen, a DVD player, a blower for the screen, as well as a letter from the UN explaining why I was delivering expensive technological equipment to Kenya.  On Sunday morning I met the director of Society Empowerment Project (SEP), Mr. Juma Festus, at Nairobi’s central bus station, where we proceeded on our 6 hour journey to the village of Oyugis.

A couple of months ago I spent a day on Skype calling various soccer and youth empowerment projects in East Africa in order to determine which would best fit the project. Of the 10 organizations I interviewed I was instantly drawn to Mr. Festus for his commitment to youth empowerment and strong leadership qualities.

Our first meeting was with the community organizer and soccer coaches that help run the SEP programs. We were able to inflate the screen in a few minutes and the entire group, including myself was glowing with excitement. We expect 1000 kids from the community to show at the opening ceremony of the world cup. This massive, nylon, weather-proof screen will be mounted on a big field overlooking the horizon in Western Kenya. The location is ideal for the project as these kids would not otherwise have the opportunity to watch the games.

The next morning Festus and I head on a 3 day journey to Kisumu, the home city of the Obama lineage.

Kisumu is about an hour and half from Oyugis, located on the Kenyan side of Lake Victoria. Festus and I spend the first day at an electronics store negotiating the price for various pieces for the project, including cables, a power generator, DSTV and speakers.

Yesterday, Festus kindly took me on a journey to the village of Mama Sarah Obama, the grandmother of our president. The two-hour Matatu ride over pot-holes, and dirt roads was well worth the journey. We arrived at the senator Obama Primary School and hitched a ride through the dirt village for about 15 kilometers until we reached the gate of the Obama farm. In front of the house laid the grave of the president’s father and grandfather. We sat outside the house and waited under the beautiful mango tree to be invited into her home. As we entered her home we were greeted by Mama Sarah in her living room, which was covered in pictures of her and her grandson, Barack. Her home was overflowing with African warmth, untainted by her fame and international recognition. Her warm Swahili words and grace were that of a true African woman, her eyes filled with years of wisdom and life.

On our way back to Kisumu we hitched a ride with a man who happened to be a former soccer player for Kenya’s international team. His kindness and willingness to give us a ride back to Kisumu is typical of Africans, especially in rural areas. We made a stop at his village where he has built a house for his family in an idyllic remote location just a few K’s from the city.  The village is quite poor and traditional and in order to be accepted he has asked the village elders to bless his land. His home has a well, which provides water to the entire community. We exchanged numbers and he offered to come speak to the children of Oyugis about his experience as Kenya’s leading soccer player.

Tomorrow, Festus and I will head back to Oyugis, where we will set up the world cup viewing venue in preparation for opening day!

Karibu from Kenya!



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