MIGHTY CITY AMBASSADOR PROGRAM
With a population between 100 and 200, the town of Geluksburg, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa has little commerce and only limited support from the local government of a town thirty kilometers away. Geluksburg has had no epicenter-that is, until, they made a soccer team. With the help of a local NGO, Sportstec, the people of Geluksburg created the Mighty City Football Club, which competes against neighboring teams and practices weekly on a field in the center of town. The soccer team has led to small but positive changes in the life of the local community.
The goal of this project, the Mighty City Ambassador Program (MCAP), is to use sport as a vehicle to contribute to the general education and development of Geluksburg. MCAP will engage both international students and local community members as ambassadors for this venture, working in the local elementary schools and on projects in the greater community.
My first three days in South Africa were among the most challenging days of my life. I had just spent a warm, luxurious week visiting family in Istanbul, and had flown from there to Johannesburg, South Africa. I had never traveled alone before. I had never been to the Southern hemisphere, let alone a country with so much poverty.
So why was I doing this?
To be honest, I wasn't really sure. I was a little restless from a lifetime in Providence, Rhode Island. I was curious about the world and wanted to travel abroad somewhere I could volunteer, so I took the first opportunity that came my way-an open invitation to live and work with the head of a Sport for Development NGO on a farm in rural South Africa.
I think my desire to have this experience in South Africa, even though I had no idea what it would be like before I got there, and the fact that I want to continue my work there after having been exposed to it once, is really indicative of whyI want to explore this type of project. I have been fortunate enough to be born into a part of the world that is relatively safe and stable, where my biggest struggles do not come close to those of people living in hunger and poverty. I am lucky that I have a family that has the means to help me get an education like the one I am getting at Brown. But I have learned that having these things means little if I do not channel the energy and resources I gain from them into bettering the lives of those who are not as fortunate as I am.
And what is truly remarkable is that I found this. Probably the least expected part of this experience is that I found my cause. So when faced with the question, "Why do you care about this problem?" all I can think in response is, "How could I not?"