Alexis Nadin is a student at American University and former intern at GlobalGiving. This summer, she is travelling through Africa and visiting a number of GlobalGiving projects.
Alexis visited this project on May 29, 2009. She writes:
Location: Kaninya School, Rwanda
As we stood amidst throngs of students (many of which were boys) that had gathered to watch their female classmates play football, we joined the noisy cheering. At the Kanyinye School, two of the top girls teams, ages 8-12 years old, faced off in a match that could not have possibly happened without AKWOS, the organization implementing this project. According to Felicite, the director of AKWOS, when boys played sports in school, girls would be sent home to help their mothers. Thanks to AKWOS, schools across Rwanda now offer girls the opportunity to actively participate in sports. At this particular school, 134 girls play on 7 teams, two of which we saw. Coach Niyikora, trained by AKWOS, explained that not only are girls taught practical football skills, but practice time is also used to teach ways of fighting genocide mentality, prevention of HIV/AIDS, and women’s rights. According to the head teacher, the girls playing soccer are performing better in school, and they are more confident in class. Student captains of the two teams excitedly told us that because of AKWOS, they were able to travel around Rwanda for the first time.
Later in the afternoon, as we sat in the AKWOS office with the staff, we learned of AKWOS’ many other programs which are supported by GlobalGiving. Aside from starting women’s soccer leagues around the country and working on training 100 women coaches, they also empower women to get tested for HIV (bringing testing facilities to the matches). One notable program brings together wives of genocidiares and female genocide survivors for reconciliation through sports.
AKWOS has had a tremendous impact on soccer in Rwanda, even winning support of the national government for their programs. Not only has AKWOS created women’s teams countrywide, and empowered school girls to play sports, but AKWOS has brought about the formation of the national women’s team, and even helped train the coach for the national men’s team (a woman). It is undeniable that AKWOS is the reason that women in Rwanda can take an active role in sports.
Alexis said she would tell her friends this project was: "Great: They are making a difference."
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