D.C. Stoddert in Kenya!
Thanks to the D.C. Stoddert club, its players, and their families, about 100 orphans in Kenya have their first soccer uniforms ever. Every year, my school takes a small group of students on a service-learning trip to Ethiopia and Kenya. I went on the trip this year, and decided before I left that, in addition to bringing food and medical supplies, I wanted to bring the joy of organized soccer to the kids we were going to meet.
I started by collecting old uniforms from D.C. Stoddert travel players, with the help of Evans Malyi, Stoddert’s Travel Soccer Director. Members of my team, the U17 Blue United, pitched in. I sorted, washed, and assembled the donated pieces until we had full kits for about 40 players. D.C. Stoddert Administrator Tom Gross heard about our effort, and offered to let us have some extra kits from last year’s recreational soccer season. All together, we assembled enough matching jerseys, shorts, and socks to supply seven full teams. We packed the collection in trunks, and took them to East Africa.
Once there, we decided to donate the uniforms to students – mostly orphans due to AIDS – who are in an after-school program in the Kwangare slum, one of the poorest in Nairobi. Florence Muyundo, the director of this program (called “Ray of Hope”) posed with a Stoddert uniform as an expression of gratitude on behalf of the staff and volunteers.
Thanks to the Stoddert club and its families, orphans at Ray of Hope will now have an organized soccer program – with uniforms – for the first time ever. Will this fix everything in these children’s lives? Of course not. Kwangare, where they live, is horribly poor. But it does give them something to look forward to, every day, after school. Now, they can now come to Ray of Hope, put on their Stoddert uniforms, and play “the beautiful game.” It is something that these children – so far away – and all of us in Stoddert in DC will have in common.