Saturday, June 12, 2010

One Soccer Ball Brings Hope

As I sit here watching the World Cup soccer games, I can’t help but remember one of the most poignant memories I have from my trip to Malawi, Africa.

Our team was made up of high school and college kids. I was one of four adult chaperones. One day we walked the six miles or so to Zoomba school where we painted chalkboards and walls, cleaned, and played soccer with the kids. Of course, the African children call the sport, “football”.

Near the end of the day we stood before 2,000 students. A couple of our kids gave their testimonies, and then John Richardson presented the school with a handful of gifts. We gave them practical items—brooms, cleaning supplies, buckets, etc… John then presented the final gift—a single soccer ball. I was overwhelmed with the response of those beautiful kids.

I saw 2,000 children stand to their feet and let out an ear piercing cheer. Their hands shot into the air, their smiles were wider than any grin I’ve ever seen, and their faces glowed with unabashed joy. You’d think we’d just given them a million dollars!

A single soccer ball brought hope to 2,000 African children!

Those of us in America might not be able to fully grasp the importance of the World Cup being held in South Africa. I’ve had a glimpse how one ball can boost the spirits of school children. I can imagine how this tournament has brought hope and light to a struggling nation.

We take so much for granted in our day-to-day privileged lives here in the U.S.A. It can be difficult to get an American child excited about anything. Even the poorest among us have more than most of the richest children I met in Africa.

If one soccer ball elicits a standing ovation from 2,000 kids can you imagine the jubilance the World Cup is bringing to the South Africans? My heart leaps with joy just thinking about it!

Go South Africa!

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