From New York With Love
It all began with a bedtime conversation in the upstate New York town of Millbrook, a mother and her young children sharing thoughts about the world and its ways. “The initial idea for Soccer Unites sprouted from a conversation that I had with my two oldest children, Jude and Kaden, who are eight and six,” says Kinue the founder of Dreamfields newest partner Soccer Unites.
“They were complaining about not having a Playstation and a Wii and we discussed the problems many children around the world face like poverty, lack of clean drinking water and disease,” she recalls.
“For one week, Kaden consistently asked me what we were going to do to help these kids and we decided to start an organization. We chose soccer,” Kinue says, “because it is the most popular sport in the world and it would provide us with a good tool to reach as many children as possible.”
Kinue connected with Dreamfields through activist and businesswoman Cheryl Carolus and flew out so we could visit some communities together. “I had spent a lot of time in South Africa but my first trip there to visit Dreamfields and see their work was awe-inspiring,” Kinue says.
“What struck me most was the excitement of the children to play soccer and also their enthusiasm to simply watch a match. I was reminded of the power of sport to promote a community and the togetherness that it provides for that community.”
On her return Kinue – who has worked as a film maker – put together this beautiful film to share her vision for making a difference through football.
Take a look: http://vimeo.com/63355561
We decided to partner Soccer Unites with the community of Lehukwe near the Kruger Park. And on a stormy night in Millbrook – special Dreamfields moments invariably involve rain – a community across the planet from Lehukwe came together to help grow some dreams.
Some people donated food and drinks for the fundraising dinner held at Kinue’s home. Others offered items for auction – holidays in Brazil and the Bahamas; designer handbags and jewellery; lessons in polo and high-performance driving. Guests were also invited to bid for a DreamBag. Everybody gave something.
By the end of the evening, the people of Millbrook, USA had raised R305 000 for the children of Lehukwe, SA. What made them give so generously? “People do want to donate to causes in Africa, but they also want to know that the money is going to the right place,” Kinue says.
“The great thing about Dreamfields is that a DreamBag is a simple and tangible gift and the people who purchased them were able to see their teams and their new kit when I returned to South Africa a couple months later. Each donor took great pride in their school.”
At the Soccer Unites DreamEvent at Sele Primary in Lehukwe, every school presented Kinue with a banner thanking their New York benefactors. And then it was time to hand over the DreamBags. “It really is special to see the looks on the kids' faces when they open their DreamBags and see their jersey colours and boots for the first time,” Kinue says.
Watch Kinue’s film to see for yourself: https://vimeo.com/71060562
With brand new kit the schools began implementing a DreamLeague programme and Dreamfields arranged two coaching courses for Lehukwe. Kinue is especially keen to see “the girls' teams thrive and that they are encouraged to play”.
That hope materialised sooner than we might have expected. Two teams from the Lehukwe cluster took part in our Mpumalanga Champions League and the girls from Sele Primary ended up as tournament winners.
Long-term Kinue plans to work with organisations tackling pressing issues like malaria, HIV and conservation. Soccer Unites is going to do great things – and Dreamfields is proud to say we were there at the start.