Right hand up, left hand back, dribble low, dribble backwards, crossover. It was a hot day, the sun high in the sky baking the hard ground. As they shuffled, ran and skid over the ground, their feet kicked up light swirls of dust, that settled on their shoes. Faith loved the feel of the basketball in her hands, the sound it made when it hit the ground, the freedom she felt as she ran up and down the court, the rush she felt as she shot a basket. Faith loved sports, and took great pride in being part of a team. She played soccer and volleyball too, but her favorite was basketball. As Faith and her team carefully listened to Coach Ochwada as he walked them through the practice drills for the day, she pushed herself to do a little more than she had the last time. She always did. She was good at basketball, but she wanted to be even better.
Faith’s mother had been sick for a long time. She had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2012. At first it seemed like she was better. Then the cancer came back. This time, Faith’s family could not afford the $5 a month for healthcare that would cover her cancer treatment, and now her mother had been home for a whole year, weak and unable to work. Faith’s father, a cobbler, worked hard, but it was not enough. During the last school break, things had gotten so bad that they lost their home. They didn’t have anywhere to go, so Faith’s family had bundled up their few belongings, looked for the driest and safest place they could find, and prepared to sleep outside. The ground had been hard and cold, the night was filled with sounds Faith had tried to block out. Despair consumed her heart as the air filling her lungs felt thick and oppressive; the poverty surrounding them like an inescapable trap. That night, Faith had prayed for strength as she held tight to her siblings and drifted off into a fitful sleep.
Now Faith was back in school and standing in her favorite place, the basketball court. As she ran across the court, her heart beating rapidly from exertion, her lungs filling with sweet fresh air, Faith felt free. The hard ground under her feet was nothing like the ground she and her family had slept on. On this ground she could play, on this ground she felt safe, on this ground she was free.
Beyond the obvious physical benefits of participation in any sport, team sports in particular teach children important values such as resilience, hard work, commitment, honesty, teamwork, fairplay and respect within a wider social context. Through their emphasis on group goals, the social support and sense of connection children experience while on a team provide more opportunity for learning adaptive coping strategies that are essential for long-term mental health in everyday life.
Beyond team sports, eduKenya’s Mawewa School and our Chelezo High School offer our students the opportunity to participate in other extracurricular activities such as Scouts, debate club, drama, dance, music and crafting. When you walk alongside children like Faith through the classroom sponsorship program, you give them a positive outlet to explore their emotions and express their creativity, while also exercising their unique gifts and simply having fun!
Would you consider partnering with us today to empower the children of Mathare? When you sponsor a class you give children like Faith the opportunity to thrive and break the cycle of poverty!
Sign-up to be a classroom sponsor today!
Thanks to our generous supporters, the first 100 new classroom sponsorship gifts will be matched. This means your gift of $45 becomes $90!