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    Helping out of school boys connect and continue learning

    Day 172

    What Makes A Team

    Young people in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda are getting active and doing some amazing things. We wanted to support them and help them make their dreams to create sports and play opportunities in Nakivale a reality. We’ve heard from so many refugees who say they feel more alive when they’re with friends and playing soccer, basketball, or running – that it provides some escape from how challenging their lives can be. So we created a platform and organized a World Refugee Day 5k on June 20, 2017 in Nakivale to help them each raise $600 to make their dreams happen.

    Naki Football Academy is one of those teams. Coach Songa Bahati was inspired to found Naki Foot by his own experience as a kid. He remembers returning home one day with a plan to join a football training program and quit school. “My mother refused categorically,” Songa told us. “She said ‘You have to stay in school, Songa!’ And she was right.”

    So, when he came to Nakivale as a refugee from Congo in 2014 and saw so many young kids who were not going to school, Songa wanted to do something specifically for them. He started Naki Foot Academy. Songa’s team of some 25 out-of-school boys comes together multiple times each week to practice and run soccer drills. It’s a healthy, regular social activity, but Songa uses these opportunities to help them get some of what they’ve been missing in school. They learn about their health and how to take care of themselves – messages they’d normally hear from a teacher.

    “We also help them with their language skills,” said Songa. “Many of them come from French speaking countries and they can’t understand in school because everything is in English. We’re trying to prepare them so they can go back to school.”

    Naki Foot is strong because it’s a team. But they’re a team that can’t play other teams. They don’t have jerseys, shoes, or balls. So, on World Refugee Day, Songa and his team ran in the 5k to raise money for those things. And the next day we were able to deliver team jerseys, a new pair of shoes for each player and a few new soccer balls.

    “Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now we’ll be able to reach for the stars,” said Songa. It made a visual difference right away. In their green uniforms and brand-new shoes the boys not only were a team, they looked like one, too.

    A very special thank you to all those who supported Songa and the Naki Football team, including: Maddie McElhenny, Karla Nagy, SweatShop Health Club, Christina Barrett, Clif Bar, Nergis Petersen, D Barker and the Mortenson Family.

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    Changemakers 365

    by Alight


    The world’s tough problems can seem insurmountable. So at Alight, while we tackle those big problems we also do what’s doable. Right then. And that’s what Changemakers 365 is all about. Learn more!


    Changemakers 365 members give either $30 per month or a one-time gift of $365 (it’s free for anyone who has ever lived in a refugee camp). Join us!

    Let's Connect!