The power Rotary has to connect people through shared values has been perfectly illustrated by an unlikely partnership facilitated by the Rotary Action Group for Family Health & AIDS Prevention (RFHA).
It all started with a football club in Ireland wanting to donate some unwanted kit and ended with big smiles being put on the faces of several football loving children in Africa.
First, Dessie Mullen from the Bray Wanderers Football Club in Ireland got in touch with Gina Miltiadou and John Mullins from the Zahra Media Group to inquire about donating the used kit.
Gina recalls: “Dessie informed us about this box of new, unused sportwear he had and since he knows that we are actively involved in a lot of charity work through our foundation, Zahra Helps, he thought it would be a good idea if we could take it to South Africa.
“We were delighted with the idea. We collected around 30 kg of sportswear from Dessie, sorted it all into individual kits, and packed them in our suitcases.”
This where the RFHA come in as Gina got in touch with Rotarians Wilma Lig and Sue Paget (CEO, RFHA), who immediately connected with Rotarian Annemarie Mosterat from the Rotary E Club of Southern Africa 9400.
When they received the sportswear with fresh tags, one couldn’t help but notice the smile on their tiny faces and appreciation in their hearts.”
“Luckily, we have two new members in our club who run the East Rand Excellent Soccer Academy (Eresa), which is a football academy in Johannesburg where children from the local community areas are given football training,” remembers Annemarie.
“When I received a call from Sue informing me about Gina and John bringing all that sports kit, I immediately decided to sign up for this opportunity. I decided to meet up with them and what a privilege it was.”
Eresa is a small football academy in the Daveyton township that focuses on social development of children through sports and the donated kits were an instant hit for the children at the club.
Annemarie illustrates the moment that the children received the kits perfectly, saying: “The handover of the sports equipment was such a beautiful sight to see. Some of these kids did not even have proper footwear and most of them had never touched a brand new item.
“When they received the sportswear with fresh tags, one couldn’t help but notice the smile on their tiny faces and appreciation in their hearts.”
Not just boys, the girls’ team was also seen sporting their new jerseys and practicing on the field. Zukile, the football director of Eresa, who is also a Rotarian, said that when he first heard about it, he couldn’t believe the news: “We were struggling with sports equipment and we had knocked on so many doors for help but we had never imagined that the help would come from Ireland.
“We have 120 kids in our academy. Our goal is to give them hope through sports, especially through soccer. We also have a girls team in our organization and the idea behind this was to shift focus on women in sports and make them self-sufficient.
“We are so grateful to Bray Wanderers, John, Gina and everyone else who made it possible for our kids to play and practice football in a better way.”