If you were to drop a soccer ball in the streets of Kongowea, kids would rush to play with it. A child in the West would pick the ball up and ask whom the ball belongs too. Instead, kids in the streets play with it until someone pipes up and claims it as theirs. There is a need for that ball. There is a need for kids to be in the field. When kids are busy with soccer, their minds are off drugs, sex, alcohol, AIDS, violence, theft. Instead their minds are focused on
getting to the field to play.
Jambo from Kenya!
I am excited to write to you about a new opportunity I have been given to empower some incredible young boys. They are the Rehma boys, as they like to call themselves. Rehma is the Arabic word for ‘mercy’. They are a group of about 25-30 boys ranging from the ages of 15-20 years old who come from the ‘streets’ of Mombasa. They all have one thing in common: a love for soccer.
Soccer is popular all throughout Africa. Young boys grow up playing barefooted on dirt pitches. They spend their free time at the pitch getting exercise, socializing and staying out of trouble. Local leagues are packed with players who crave a chance to get some time on the field. In the evenings, crowds gather to watch young boys play before they head home for the night. Unfortunately, these boys lack the proper training and equipment to make it big in soccer.
My partner, Kelvin, and I have been asked to take a leadership role in the team. Kelvin is an experienced soccer player and a trained coach. He also grew up in the ‘steets’ so he knows where these boys come from, what their lives are like, and what they need to keep their heads straight and out of trouble. Kelvin’s style of coaching is whole-life. He was trained by Ubabalo, which is a South African organization that has created a whole-life coaching curriculum for various sports.
à For example, one lesson is on short passes and trying to keep possession of the ball within the team. They must stay connected to one another while passing the ball back and forth. Likewise, they are taught that it is important even in life to stay connected with others. They are shown that you can do much better in life if you do not try to live life on your own but to live it with a team of companions. It encourages interdependence and inter-relational skills. This is just one example from over 40 lessons on community, responsibility, service, sacrifice, courage, etc.
Kelvin has already started coaching the boys and they are responding really well. Even his numbers are increasing daliy and he has to split them into several teams. There is a great need for such coaching and leaders who care for their players!
Life in the “streets"...
They live in the “streets” of Mombasa as they like to describe it. It is an area called Kongowea. According to Western standards, the area is very much a slum. But for thousands of Kenyans, including the boys, it is home. Squatter houses are squeezed
together creating little space for a yard, a garden, proper infrastructure, or a place for kids to play. Five to six families live in these houses at one time. They each get one room and share a common corridor, pit latrine, and bathing area. They lack a source of water and a proper sewage system. The rent for these houses range from $20-$40 a month. The area is known for it’s market of fresh produce, clothes, and pretty much anything else one would need for everyday living. On average, families in Kongowea earn a monthly income of $100 or less. The area has been stricken with poverty, drugs, theft, HIV/AIDS, alcohol, violence, and prostitution. If you walk through the small, dirt alleyways of Kongowea you will smell a mixture of aromas, which may include sewage, urine, fish, and deep-fried foods. There is no proper garbage disposal so trash is thrown outside to be burned. However, you will notice that you are walking through a thriving community. People will be chatting and greeting one another, others will be working in their local shops or washing their laundry. Mamas are cooking over charcoal grills. Young kids are running around barefoot outside laughing and playing. Young guys are found at local shops where they can play video games. For them, it’s the only life they know. These boys need guidance and a positive activity in order to break the cycle of poverty, drugs, alcohol, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, etc. This is why providing an encouraging and loving environment is cruicial in keeping these boys out of trouble.
A letter from the captain…
Rehma youth is a football club found on the streets of Mombasa in a location of Kongowea. It was found in the year 1994 August 14, the date has not been really confirmed since that most of the founders members had disappeared from the streets. The club has been lucky sometimes back after most of the parents committed themselves and they do promoted the club with at least balls or a ball. Since then the club is runned senior players who will everyday run door-to-door looking for help as a fund for materials.
The club has won the District Kenya Youth Soccer event which was run by an Italian businessman. The team had also produced 4 players who were scouted by the best youth team in Kenya based in the city of Mombasa, which was run by the same great businessman. So far on player had an opportunity to feature the team which presents the country in the Danono Nations Cul hold in Paris, France while another had two appearance of the National assignment under 17 Cecara qualifications. And since the club is preparing for the division 1 league which will kick off early November the team is lacking balls, jerseys, and training kits.
Believe me one day we would wake up with a good leader, sponsor who will brighten our future Amen!
Captain Nicky Okoth
Sponsor a player…
This is where I need your help. As you know, a team cannot play if they are not equipped with the proper attire. Most of these boys play without shoes, socks, or shin pads. The team also needs a good set of matching jerseys and shorts. For practice, they need a couple of balls and some cones.
The total cost for sponsoring 1 player is only $100CAD! This will equip them with a good pair of cleats, socks, shin pads, a jersey, shorts, a ball, some cones as well as transport money for games. This is where we are asking for your help!
For 20 players we will need $2000 to fully equip them with everything they need.
If you would like to be apart of this project, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to start a blog soon that will give you updates, introduce you to the boys and allow you to be apart of their lives.
Asante sana (thank you very much) for continuing this journey with me!