I’ve been in touch with Alex Grant, who works for the Wall Street Journal and recently started an effort to collect football gear for kids in South Africa, when he attends the World Cup. A nice personal gesture that I’m sure will be very appreciated. His letter to support his organization, Boots for Aba’fana is below. Please read on if interested.
As many of you know I am heading to South Africa in June to attend the FIFA World Cup tournament. I can’t believe it is finally here! Four long years since Germany 2006. For me Germany was my first World Cup live and was a truly amazing experience. Many of you have heard me say that I believe football (soccer) to be the worlds great equalizer. There aren’t many opportunities for developing countries to take on the world’s super powers, but the World Cup provides that chance every four years. The energy and pride of those supporting their countries is a spectacle in and of itself. I made a commitment after ’06 to make the trek every four years as long as I am able.
As I was planning this years journey, I was introduced to a woman named Jenny Housdon by my step-daughter’s pre-K teacher, Ms. Zio. Jenny runs a business in South Africa that specializes in tours of the township of Khayelitsha. Khayelitsha is located near Capetown and is populated by nearly 1.5 million people(http://www.nomvuyos-tours.co.za/township_info.shtml). Like many other townships, Khayelitsha is economically challenged. Jenny has been instrumental in not only sharing the inner beauty of Khayelitsha and its people, but also helping to acquire basic necessities for Khayelitsha and its residents. Jenny’s February newsletter mentioned a need for football gear for teams in Khayelitsha. The teams play on a pretty hard scrabble “field” which is really a rocky patch of dirt. Manchester, the soccer coach in Khayelitsha, mentioned that many of the boys don’t have shoes to wear and asked for help. When I read Jenny’s newsletter it got me thinking about the contrast of the World Cup being played in beautiful stadiums around South Africa while boys in the nearby townships have no shoes. I decided then that I wanted to try and help.
I started an organization called “Boots for Aba’fana” (Aba’fana means “the boys”) and set a goal of raising $3,000 between now and June 4th, 2010 which is when I depart for Johannesburg. I have pledged $100 to get the fund rolling, so there – we’re off to a great start and now we only need $2,900! The money donated will be used to buy shoes for the footballers of Khayelitsha as well as a sports wheelchair for one of the boys in Khayelitsha who is interested in competing in adapted sports.
Because my departure is so near we don’t have time to apply for, and receive, a 501(c)(3) which makes us an official non-profit organization. However, we are receiving support from Tony Sanneh and The Sanneh Foundation (http://www.thesannehfoundation.org/) who have offered the use their 501c3. As many of you know, Tony is a former US National Team member who represented USA in the 2002 World Cup. Tony also played in the MLS and top European leagues. Read about some of Tony’s most recent efforts in Haiti here http://www.startribune.com/blogs/86375212.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU
I have started a Facebook page called Boots for Aba’fana (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boots-for-Abafana/111259205559081). Here you can learn a little more about Khayelitsha township, see some pictures of the kids, read Jenny’s newsletters and of course donate. To donate through Paypal, there is a “Donate” button on the left side of the page, right beneath our small, but growing number of friends. I will update this page as often as possible between now and early June. During the tournament I will be sure to post pictures of the World Cup, Khayelitsha and of course the kids.
Any amount donated will help. Even $1 will do. If everyone on this email thread donated $1, we’d be 10% of the way to our goal. Sharing this email with five (5) people you know and having them donate $1 would get us to over half our goal! Just think, bringing your lunch to work for one day (if you don’t already) or skipping one day of your Starbucks coffee run (okay, maybe that is too much to ask), and donating this amount could make a difference in these kids’ world. To know there are people half way around the globe that are looking out for them is an amazing idea.
I’ll end by saying that I realize there are too many quality causes to support these days. I know we are all getting asked to donate something to somebody almost every day. Planning for this trip and talking to many people about South Africa has made me realize how much we have to be thankful for here in the US and therefore I felt the need to make my “ask”. That said, I completely understand if your support plate is full. If you are so inclined, please donate whatever amount you are comfortable with. If your budget doesn’t allow a donation, but you still want to participate, please become a fan of “Boots for Aba’fana” on Facebook and in this way, help spread the word.
Please write with any questions, comments, concerns or suggestions.
Thank you in advance for your support and I look forward to sharing our success!
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