For the first time in my life, I traveled to East Africa. Recently, I decided to take a week of vacation and spend it traveling with my husband to see the work he does with microfinance institutions in East Africa. While traveling with my husband, an amazing opportunity presented itself and I took it! I was given the chance to train a group of coaches from Burundi and Congo, all of whom are part of an organization called Pour le Sauvetage de Vulnerable. They work with orphans and vulnerable youth in an area that was devastated by Burundi’s civil war and with children in Congo, Burundi’s neighboring country that is currently experiencing a civil war.
Both L.A.C.E.S. and Coalition Pour le Sauvetage de Vulnerable believe that youth are the key to the future of these countries devastated by war, and that sports is a highly effective way to reach youth. With similar philosophies, it seemed like a natural fit to invest in these coaches and share the L.A.C.E.S. model to further the organization’s mission.
It had been almost three years since I had had the chance to conduct a coaches training and therefore was greatly looking forward to the workshop. I spent the day with 23 eager men and women who shared ideas and performed skits in order to discuss how to positively impact the future of their country while playing a sport they love.
Not only was it my first time in East Africa, it was also the first time I have conducted a workshop that was translated into three different languages: Swahili, French and Kirundi. I hope I sounded smart in all three languages!
Since our time was short, I chose two major topics to engage the coaches. These were effective coaching styles and positive discipline. The feedback I received from the attendees was inspiring. One attendee, when asked what he had learned through the workshop replied “We…learned how to be a good example for those we lead.”
Another individual added that “humility is important for a good coach” when asked what he was taking from the workshop.
While our time was short, I hope that what we were able to share will make a difference in the lives of youth in both Burundi and Congo. While Burundi is currently experiencing peace, many of the youth in the Congo have only known war. I hope you will pray along with us for peace in the Congo and continued peace in Burundi.