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/.