2016 has been an exciting year for us. We spent the first half of the year travelling all over Europe producing shoots, and then we went on an unexpected journey a little further afield…
In June, we hopped on a couple of rather long flights and ended up in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, to work on a project with a grassroots charity called Soccer Without Borders.
With a Photographer/Director and his assistant in tow, armed with a couple of cameras, a notepad, a $50 note for our visas and some sensible shoes, we helped to produce some imagery and a short film for SWB, with the aim of showing the rest of the world the awe-inspiring work that this charity is doing in Uganda.
SWB Uganda was set up in 2008 in Kampala by a small group of young refugees who found themselves some of the most challenging circumstances imaginable. After setting up their own refugee football team, they wanted to do something to help the wider refugee community.
The SWB Mission: to use soccer as a vehicle for positive change, providing under-served youth with a toolkit to overcome obstacles to growth, inclusion, and personal success.
Uganda is home to one of the largest populations of refugees and internally displaced peoples in Africa. Due to the relatively hospitable policies towards victims of forced migration, refugees from all over the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes seek shelter within its borders. When refugees arrive, often little help is offered and refugees need to find their own way. Some of the fundamental challenges facing these refugees are language barriers, xenophobia, lack of local recognition of scholastic and professional diplomas, lack of financial resources and absence of institutional support. But among all these barriers, refugees in the urban settings often say that the biggest barrier they face in Uganda is a lack of access, for adults and children alike, to educational opportunities.
50% of Uganda’s population are aged under 15. This means there are A LOT of children.
Everywhere we went in the Nsyambya neighbourhood where we were staying, we could hear children laughing, shouting, playing, living their lives. Every kid that walked past us waved, high-fived or just wanted to chat!
This is where Soccer Without Borders comes into play.
Around 350 refugee children participate in the Soccer Without Borders programme at the centre in Nysambya, where they can learn, make friends and play sport. It is the closest thing to formal school that these children can currently experience. In the four classrooms at the centre, the children take English and life skills classes in the morning, and have football training in the afternoon.
Some of the children told us about the impact joining the programme had had on their lives…
- It gives them a sense of routine
- A reason to get out of the house in the morning
- a chance to make friends and meet other kids in similar circumstances
- the opportunity to learn English and the local language, Luganda
- the chance to learn to read and write
- a sense of achievement
- time to play
- to play football and learn about teamwork
- to have a safe space where they feel cared for
- have a place where they can have a voice
- the chance to learn about careers and to plan their future
- to have fun
And so much more.
SWB Uganda are doing an amazing job, but they DESPERATELY need more resources.
To find out more about Soccer Without Borders Uganda, or to donate, follow this link:
You can also donate and find out more via Global Giving UK, an organisation that supports SWB with its fundraising.
Photo credits Tim Marsella.
This project was supported by Global Giving UK.