Toyota compacts are fantastic cars.
I know what you all are thinking. “But Troy the brakes, all that stuff was in the newspapers. The reputation is shot, man. You.sound.stupid.right.now”
O ye of little faith. Last week I found myself in a Toyota compact ripping through a dirt path, jumping hills that were quite possibly unfit for motorcross. Unreliable? Please.
I was “four-wheelin’” with my buds Paul Zulu and Kelvin, both of whom work for the Edusport Foundation, a sports-based NGO that is huge throughout every province of Zambia. Their work? Teaching children, adolescents, and adults about such issues as HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, gender roles, women’s empowerment, environmental issues, etc. However, their medium of delivery is definitely unique. Edusport uses the power of sport to first bring individuals together, and then educate those who come.
It is almost too simple—Edusport equals education plus sport. Sports bring people together from all walks of life, so they take advantage.
Bottom line--It works. Let me assure you. Any one here in Africa right now can attest to the fact that sports bring people together. I myself will shortly be the lone American representative here in my hostel for U.S. vs. England, and I promise you I will be super obnoxious. Just listen for the guy singing Mellencamp, and I’ll be there.
We were traveling to the tiny village of Kalundu, approximately 60 kilometers out on Great East Road (about 18 kms off the main road; we drove about 30, but no worries, we backtracked). Edusport has done extensive work in the Kalundu community, using funds to build a large, one room community school. This ensures that kids will not have to walk unbelievably long distances to school. Often, and I’ve seen this in several towns, lack of transport is a huge contributing factor to kids dropping out of school. A child dropping out after seventh grade is shockingly common.
After talking with several children (mostly using Tonga translators), and the two teachers who work at the school, I could tell the huge effect Edusport has had on this small, tight-knit community.
Through Edusport’s POWER (People Organized Working for Economic Rebirth) sport program, people have been given goats, which they can later sell for quick income. According to GlobalGiving project leader Paul Zulu, “These people are farmers, they know what to do when given an animal.”
True to Zulu’s word, the animal husbandry program has proved hugely successful, and often the income rendered can be used to further go towards children’s education.
However, the main reason for my visit was to check out the “Go Sisters” program, which strives to educate young ladies on women’s issues.
Sports, typically an idea thought taboo for women and reserved solely for men, are now being used to empower young women in a developing nation. Watching the two teams, dressed in the odd combination of soccer jerseys and chitenge skirts, was literally watching women break new ground.
The “Go Sisters’ program has been a great success, and after talking to the women, has become a huge part of their lives. Providing them with an outlet of some sort, in a nation with fairly rigid gender roles, has proven invaluable.
The girls are now training for a nationwide tournament.
To take the time to describe all that Edusport would take a lot longer than you all are willing to pay attention. Just after a few hours in Kalundu, I could see the impact Edusport is having, and trust me, it is huge.
As I was leaving a woman pulled me aside and said, “You see? People giving money really can make a difference.”
While Edusport is doing well, donations are still desperately needed. The Kalundu School is in need of expansion, as they are outgrowing that tiny, one-room, thatched roof classroom. The Edusport programs are solid, but could need some more fine-tuning. With your help Edusport can continue to grow and be a role model for all Zambian-based NGOs.
More often than not, one sees NGOs that are pumped full of USAID money. However, this is a perfect example of a Zambian non-profit taking initiative and creating a truly amazing organization.
I’ll have you know, the ‘Yota got a flat tire. However, I blame the giant rocks, not the fine Japanese engineering.
To learn more about Edusport's project on GlobalGiving, check out www.globalgiving.org/1647.
Troy Smith, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is currently an In-the-Field traveler visiting GlobalGiving projects throughout Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. Follow his trip at http://troygivesglobal.tumblr.com/.
This Go Sisters programme is trying to contribute to the achievement of the MDG3 in Zambia - promoting gender equity and empowerment. The programme is increasing the number of girls taking up leadership roles at the community and district levels. The project has this year trained 45 girls as peer leaders/educators who in turn cascade their life skills and knowledge on health and girls’ rights issues to a further number of girls.
This year the programme has managed to retain a number of girls in school- 9 have completed secondary education while 6 have progressed to college level.
Outside their class work, many girls have formed up teams in soccer, volleyball, basketball and netball.
Just yesterday, over 16 girls aged between 12 and 18 travelled to Livingstone for a festive season tournament where they will compete against their friends from Livingstone for the next one week. At the tournament, girls will show how much skills they have acquired in coaching, refereeing and playing. Besides that, they will be involved in a number of debates on issues that they feel are currently affecting them. After the event, the young girls will run tournaments in 5 communities in Lusaka and 8 communities in Southern Province dubbed Go Sisters Christmas tournaments.
The demand for this girls programme has greatly increased with inadequate sports and training equipment standing as the main challenge.
Girls are now saying-“Lets go Sisters, 2009 is a year for Breakthrough-we can do it!”
I am Mwiza Njobvu from Zambia
I was born on the 19th of May, 1989 and completed secondary education in 2007.
I play basketball and I enjoy doing that.Go Sisters has helped me realize that girls and boys are equal and I have discovered that I can do things that I thought were only done by boys. Go Sisters has helped me learn how to use my spare time wisely and how to fight peer pressure, Go Sisters has also taught me how to change the lives of others.
From the time I joined Go Sisters, I have won confidence, I have made friends, trained as Youth peer leader whose acquired knowledge is meant for the benefit of all.
EduSport through Go Sisters has helped me complete my secondary education and I am working at St. Patrick’s Girls School where I am running Sports programmes for a grade 6 class. I have formed a basketball team and I am about to form a Soccer team. My girls enjoy Sport and all our EduSport programmes.
Many thanks to all the people that have helped me, especially those that donate towards Go Sisters,the committed Peer Leaders in Zambia and the Great EduSport Family.
Indeed this project aims to contribute to the achievement of the MDG3 in Zambia - promoting gender equity and empowerment - by increasing the number of us girls in the target communities adopting leadership roles at the community and district levels.
I stand to inspire and lead a number of girls. Lets Go Sisters, we can do it.