Street Children & Football: Faith Filled Friday Link-up

All year, Dan Kappers and I have been co-teaching the grade 9 Service Learning class at HOPAC. Throughout the course of the year, students researched and wrote about problems in Tanzania and their possible solutions. As a culminating project, students split into groups to write two more specific research papers on problems they saw in Dar es Salaam that they could do something about as students at HOPAC. One group chose to research the lack of mosquito nets at local orphanages and the other group investigated the plight of street children in Dar es Salaam.
When they finished researching and writing, students began planning the service projects. Both groups worked together to organize a movie night at school, which they used as a fund-raiser for the two projects. It was an incredible success–they raised over 1.1 million Tanzanian shillings in just one night! They then went to work planning for today’s events: one group purchased mosquito nets, hardware, snacks, and juice for the orphanage, while the other group purchased football jerseys, footballs, and pilau ingredients.
This morning, at the beginning of the school day, Mr. Kappers accompanied the first group to the orphanage, where they installed 40 mosquito nets and shared snacks and juice with the kids there.
I stayed behind at HOPAC to supervise a football day. HOPAC students invited 22 street children involved with the Safina Project to HOPAC for a day of football, food, and fun. When they arrived, the boys were given brand-new football kits (jerseys and shorts), and assigned to a team with several HOPAC students for the day. Each team played five games half-pitch tournament-style, and then as a final match, the HOPAC students played verses Safina, resulting in a win 1-0 for Safina! After football, they gathered together to eat pilau, kachumbari, and mandazi (an incredible, delicious meal). HOPAC students also purchased several footballs, which they gave to Safina as a gift so that the boys would be able to play football at Safina on their own. It was so much fun to see the boys from the streets of Dar playing football side by side with some of the most privileged students in Dar — and everyone involved having a fantastic time!
The inspiration for the service project came from the students’ belief that all people are created equal and as such, should be treated with respect. Because many of the street children in Dar es Salaam have no idea what it is like to be treated as an equal, students proposed a football day at HOPAC. As I watched the day unfold, I was reminded of Christ’s exhortation to “do it unto the least of these.” HOPAC students did that today. They clothed, fed, and gave water to “the least of these” with humble and joyful hearts and it was just brilliant to see. And the best part of it all was that when students were on the football pitch, there was no “least of these” at all–if anything, HOPAC students were the ones at a disadvantage. What a beautiful picture of Christ’s love and the equality that can be found in sports…all in one day!
Missional Women

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