After the New Life orphanage, it was time to try something a bit different…
I went to the beach to recoup and think about the next steps. The orphanage that I contacted was really cool, a small one dedicated to arts and sports!
It was perfect!
Except they did not answer calls or emails…
Finally, to avoid, wasting too much time, I asked a couple of new friends, Shadow and Coconut (yes, like out of a movie!), if they knew of anything suitable nearby.
Of course they said yes and took me to see, after having negotiated a price for the ride and information… Nothing for nothing, Rafiki!
Sombepa street shelter was a sight.
The kids were all slightly older, from 12 to 18 and had been rescued from the street. No stories were told, no questions asked.
The sorry state of the whole building, mattresses and pantry were exacerbated by the malaria-ridden boy lying on the mini veranda, suffering in silence as the chickens clucked around him.
At this point, it was clear that I would donate less footballs and more smiles in the form of food and medicine!
I went with the cashier/administrator shopping. With 50 euros I was able to buy them food for a month!
Some fruit and malaria medicine was thrown in for the stricken lad.
I looked at the things they were doing for the children:
Crafts class to make leather goods and drums, schooling and English were among some of the activities, not to mention cooking and cleaning for their communal meal.
All very useful…
For the future.
The present was more like food and hygiene!
Naturally, they are doing the best they can.
As the goal is still to play football, we arranged a game and the ball donation for the next morning as all the boys were not present.
There are no girls here. Easy to see why.
The next morning, Saturday, the sky was ominously gray, but, as we had an appointment we set out anyway.
Shadow did not show, perhaps because there was no sun? Or because it had been Friday night in Africa?
Coconut looked worse for wear and drove very slowly, the music reviving him with each suggestive beat. Of course! Coconut is a drummer as I had seen the day before when he showed the kids a few beats.
As the Sombepa home have no place to play, they had asked the local catholic church for use of their ground. They graciously accepted, being run by Brazilians, it seemed only natural!
We reached the ground and the deluge began!
We looked at each other, looked at the rain, at the field, at the brand new footballs, at the eager boys and laughed!
FootBallSmiles in the rain!
My shoes are still wet!!!!
We slipped and slid and scored, some with shirts and shoes, some with neither but all with smiles!
Even the boy with malaria played, laughing as if nothing had been wrong with him only a day before!
At the end, they made a circle around me and asked me to speak to them…
What to say?
The best thing seemed to give them hope, ask them to keep on going for their goals.
As there was some good talent there, especially Omar and Ibrahim, two Muslim brothers in this mixed religion centre, I urged the director, Geoffrey, a Christian, to contact the local professional clubs to come and see his boys play.
I hope he does. I hope they see the talent. I hope they will go all the way and then help others like themselves out. Pay it forward.
That is my hope, I guess it depends on them too. On their hope and on their action.
Footballsmiles on the way to Malawi next…
Hope to see you there!