The children in Tanzania have very little basic resources. Old plastic bottles may be the only ‘toy’ they have to play with. Before we went to Tanzania, we decided to pack ten brand new footballs and a pump in our suitcases as a gift for the children of different villages of this beautiful country. We thought they would be happy having something to play with, but not in our wildest imagination did we expect the response we received from them.
The moment a football came out of the bag, there were gasps of admiration and anticipation and once they received the ball, there was no way to get their attention again! It brought them momentary relief from the cycle of poverty most of these children are in. For a moment, as they were kicking the ball around, they forgot the hardship they lived in, the struggle to find clean water and what it feels like to go to bed hungry.
But for some of them, the football may be even more than just a momentary escape. Some of them may even become the sport stars of the next generation… Who knows? All I know, is that having a real football to kick around a field, instead of a plastic bag wrapped in some ropes, meant the world to these children – and I would like to think that it gave them some hope… Hope that things may be different in the future, because there are still people who care enough to give them a fantastic football, something they never thought was possible. But if that is possible, what else could happen in the future…?!
So, next time you see some children kicking a ball around remember how privileged and blessed we all actually are and ask yourself: “what can I do to bring some joy to a child in poverty?”
Written by Dr Jaco Beukes