Gulu, Uganda

Today I’m moving my blog to WordPress. To mark this launch I’m re-posting some entries made through my website’s blog as it will eventually come down altogether. I’ll start with select posts from my trip to Africa in 2010. This trip inspired me to start blogging in the first place so I think it’s an appropriate place to begin…


2010 july 10, Arriving in Gulu Uganda

My flight to Entebbe, Uganda from Nairobi, Kenya, was a short one. But the drive to the northern town of Gulu was about 5hrs by hired driver. While the scenery is always intriguing, it seemed an even longer drive as I was excited to arrive, meet everyone, and see the soccer camps in action.

I was thrilled to be arriving on the day of the ‘Tournament for Peace’ and finally meeting members of the Youth Coalition for Peace who works so closely with OA Projects here in Gulu. What a wonderful group of people who have dedicated their time and energy to making their community a better place following decades of conflict. Latifah, Anthony, and Henry told me this as I was welcomed to the pitch and engaged in discussions about their work, how it started, how it was going, and what it looks like within the soccer framework. (More on the impact of the conflict in Gulu here.)

In addition to talking with the Youth Coalition, I spent the afternoon watching as the kids dove head first into these matches. Bare feet, wet grass, no shin pads, and no fear. They were unrestricted! The audience was just as much in the game without actually being on the field. It was very fun to watch as cheers, roars of excitement, and laughter exploded when their friends made plays.

It was wonderful to see that our Fair Trade soccer balls from our fundraising drive were being put to good use so many miles from home…

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2010 july 12, Field Ceremony

The Youth Coalition for Peace was officially handing over and presenting the rehabilitated soccer pitch to the local community via the school and I felt extremely privileged to be present for this ceremony. Local leaders were in attendance including the community priest, school principal, and the Youth Coalition Leaders. Even the equivalent to a Canadian MLA was present which I was told is quite rare. So I felt honoured to be witness to the ceremony.

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I also felt a little embarrassed as the leaders acknowledged me and more generally ‘the Canadians’ for the generous contributions and support. Seeing how much work has been put into this in just a couple days, I felt the soccer ball contribution was a small token of the bigger picture, but it was motivating in this moment to reaffirm my desire to do even more next time. Not to take away from the great donations which were made through the fundraiser, but the need here is great. Gulu requires considerable help, so it was inspiring to want to return to Canada and find bigger and greater ways to support them even more.

The kids were a joy to watch. My guess is there were 600+ kids spectating. Some say there were a thousand. Either way, there was a lot and it was an amazing sight to see so many people coming together around this event. It was followed by a match of the young adult teams in the area and was very entertaining.

Being as this was my last day, we traded emails and promises of correspondence as well as hopes to return some time in the future. Sooner than later…


Left to Right: Youth Coalition for Peace (YCP) coordinator Latifah, me, Collins (YCP), Henry (YCP), Gavin (OA), Deputy Head teacher at Laliya Primary School, and Anthony (YCP) in front.

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