June 2, 2014. Picture a lake as large as an ocean. And hills looming like mountains, standing watch over a village. Picture an undiscovered tourist destination, a secret of only few adventurers, and Coaches Across Continents.
We return to the shores of Lake Victoria, but this time on the other side. Our Kenya programs take us to Homa Bay County, and down a rough road to a village called Mbita. CAC staff member, Nora Dooley is joined by another Community Impact Coach (CIC), David Mulo, from our long-time partner Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP), to train coaches from our new partner, Boychild Agenda International.
Set on a picturesque field surrounded by mountainous islands, the training focused on introducing the community coaches to football for social impact. The region, and particularly Mbita, has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in Kenya. Often a priority during Year 1 programs, the importance of focusing on the HIV issue became paramount for this week.
After playing all five Adebayor games from our HIV module, the participants really grabbed hold of our coaching for social impact methods. The discussions that followed each of these games were enlightening as we discussed why the participants believe Mbita to have such a high HIV rate and what they can do as a community to change that. This day of the training was made even more momentous by the arrival of two more CAC coaches. One was another CIC from VAP, Mathew Malusi. He ensured the safe arrival of our volunteer landing mid-week in Nairobi from the United States. Mackenzie Jones joins CAC for the remaining six weeks in Kenya. She just finished her junior year at George Washington University where she plays goalkeeper for the women’s varsity lacrosse team. Alongside classes and lacrosse she has also been running programs for an NGO called The Grassroot Project (TGP) for the past three years. This is an initiative in Washington DC inspired by Grassroot Soccer that has student-athletes from DC colleges teaching urban youth how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS.
Mackenzie and Mathew arrived to Mbita just in time for our HIV day, adding great value to the pool of knowledge about HIV prevention. From Nora’s history with Grassroot Soccer (GRS), to VAP’s focus on HIV education in their Nairobi programs as well as their partnership with GRS, and now with Mackenzie’s background in the mix, we had a highly trained team of coaches well-equipped to address the gravity of the HIV epidemic in Mbita. This was a special day for the participants as they learned an entirely new way to confront the issue with CAC’s football for HIV behavior change games. It was also an exciting experience for our coaches as the worlds of CAC and GRS came together alongside VAP and TGP, uniting forces in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS on this beautiful field overlooking Lake Victoria. Not a bad week at the office.