We have been in Brazzaville for two months now and even though I get very tired of the disorder, power cuts and the diarrhea (to not mention the roads), I am overwhelmingly thankful to be here. As a volunteer I have the opportunity to be part of something that really makes a difference.
Yesterday when me and my colleague, coach Zico, were on our way home from the training on Mansimou we started to talk about the war and how the Gothia Cup project started. He told me about his experiences and how he as a 19 year old had to see and experience things nobody should have to see. It´s a strange feeling to hear someone talk about the bridge that you just crossed and that it was one of the worst places during the war. – ”There were body’s everywhere” says Zico. During the war Brazzaville were split into two camps , the north and south part of Brazzaville. The hate and suspiciousness between the two groups were growing during the war. Zico tells me that it was, during many years after the war, and still is an unwillingness and fear of crossing the ”boarders”.
One of the reasons of starting the football school was to erase these borders and slowly heal the won of the war. Zico says that it was a tough start because the parents from for example Tomas Ankara in the north were refusing their kids to play matches in Mansimou in the south and vice versa.
There were a lot of tension between the people in Brazzaville and children from different areas solved there problems on the playing field by fighting. But slowly, slowly things started to change and the children got friends from other parts of the city. They realized that ”they are pretty nice even though they are from Tomas Ankara”.
-This is the best I have ever done says Zico I don´t just see a change in the children but also in their parents. It gives me hope that people can change and that we can rebuild this country. Sometimes I get frustrated that it’s not happening faster but with the help of God I think it can work.” When he gets of the bus my head is spinning. I feel such a thankfulness that I get to know somebody like Zico and the other coaches at Gothia that work so hard for a better future for these children and youths and it feels like a blessing to be a part of this work. Then what does it matter if the water or power doesn´t work?
It has happened so much the last months. The trainings is working as usual and us three volunteers has been working on al three football facilities. They all have their charm and problems and it feels exiting to see how we can develop and improve theme.
In October Tomas Hammar (Svenska missions kyrkan and Gothia cups project leader for Gothia Brazzaville) came here to look at the activity and to start planning for a new football school in Congo-Kinshasa. The thought of the football school spreading to other countries is both exciting and fun.
About one week later Roger Andersson (marketing manager at Gothia Cup) and Pär Johansson (from the company YdemeR …) arrived together with Tomas to see how the football school is working. In Congo, where titles is important, they called theme ”La delegation Suedoise”.
It was a pleasure to watch their days in Congo, for Roger Andersson it was the first visit to Africa and as for everyone else the first impression is very overwhelming, al the new smells, sounds, tastes and people. Roger (who has a heart larger then Hisingen) is thrown between the large joy here and the shocking discovery of the awful poorness most of them live in. -”Sofia, look at the children over there, they can´t play with an old ball like that. I have a totally new ball in the car, can´t I give it to them? I explained that it wouldn´t be a good thing to just throughout a new ball. It would be chaos. -” You have been given plenty of balls to CF Gothia. You have to give the ball to Doris and then he can give it out.” Roger looks with a sad face on the children and the old ball and shake his head. He would have given every child in Africa a ball if he could.
Pär has been to Africa many times before. You can ask for anything and Pär takes it out of his bag: spices, a first aid kit, biscuits …. you name it. October 7:th the three men went back home and it felt as they were satisfied with their visit. After two months in Congo we, the volunteers, feels very much as a as we really live in Brazzaville and the expression ”People comes and goes but the volunteers remain” starts to fell like a truth.
I hope the autumn is not to dark on you and we thank everyone at home for the prayers and thoughts you have for us down here.
Best regards from the footballvolunteers in Congo, through Sofia.